So an other month has whipped by…..
“You young people of Ireland” The Pope when he talked years ago.
Now is now and its so moved on and complicated…
Last night found me performing in The Project Art Centre amongst a really mixed bag of individuals. A production called Generations.
It was the final dish of tasty tapas presented by us all.
Right back to the beginning, “make it clear to your readers Hilary”
As is my way I peruse the possible landing place for my Performance art practice, so I sent a proposal off to Projectbrandnew who are Louise Lowe, Lynnette Moran, Jody O Neill and Dee Roycroft.
PBN is part of Project Catalyst and supported by The Arts Council and Dublin City Council.
This was a residency where a collective of varied generations, nationalities, and genre were tossed around in very interesting melting pots.
It was part of the Bealtaine festival but, although an elder participator, I was not considered such and was happy to be there as a performance artist /Dublin woman with Histories to share, explore and experiment with.
We each presented a proposal, which, when we all met up on the first day broke down into four groups of four with a facilitator to each group and a venue.
The range of backgrounds was very interesting; dancers, writers, visual artists, actors, physical theatre practitioners, performance artists, cultural studies lecturers, musicians and so on.
The Director of the Bealtaine Festival (Celebrating creativity in older age)
Dominic Campbell was there as a sort of overseer/director - his description of what he is does was “ Make stuff and make it happen”.
He said something that helped put it in perspective for yours truly.
Each generation is a span of ten years or so, each has a different conception of ideas and notions, for him he remembers reading science fiction comics where we all would have jet packs to get around NOW, so asks “where s my jetpack“?
The notion of imagined futures, future histories was our starting point for the week. A week in which we would consider our age in relation to our own aging, making collaborative efforts and tasks to possibly find an investigation in how we move on, perhaps by using our life skills and experience as a spring board to go into areas we are not sure of.
A need to be brave was called upon, a need to engage, collaborate, to care and be caring.
To give and to get, to take risks, be prepared to let go and as a group arrive at some intergenerational collective ideas.
Our group arrived at a mix of our own parameters, to exchange, respect, trust, try not to dictate, try to make valuable, to be easy going, to listen and try out together. To be on time Irish time, as in ten minutes late was fine.
The basis of it being a process, a work in progress, a never finished polished conventional piece of theatre. I personally think the end result was something more special because of this.
This is great in theory but as is the nature of humans will always throw up some conflict, misunderstandings, mis – communication . Yet still for me that was part of the weeks experience. A necessary learning curve which one embraced or went off in a huff!!
Our venue was a lovely small converted loft space in a lane near Rutland street. We four met each day here with our leader/director/facilitator Dee Roycroft.
We were; Oliver Marshall a retired civil servant, writer and someone whom I had been with on Black Swans last year with the Abbey Theatre part of the Bealtaine festival 2009
Christina Kyriazidi a young Greek lady whose interest lay in Physical theatre, a lively, lovely, pretty petite presence.
Noelia Ruiz, from Barcelona, who is a PhD student in contemporary theatre in UCD and has lived in Dublin for ten years. A very strong, confident, clever lady.
Our proposals were the starting point of many discussions, experiments and really intense study, movement dialogue and exploration.
My own proposal was to “Swap The Lot,” that is perhaps to find a younger person, swap clothes, stories and perhaps life style for a while.
For the purpose of maybe trying to bridge the generation gap, put a bit of humour into our day to day lives, I had hoped to use video in conversations, made outside to be realised later in a different setting.
We set about working on the first day. Dee was interested in Oliver’s interpretation of Frank Mc Governs play Sierra Leone which is a love story of sorts with a sort of impossible love theme where the son ends up back with his father sharing the same bed.
Dee left us to make some work on our own, we played around with movement and language and set each other small tasks which collectively we showed at the end.
As time progressed my use of my daughters clothes was considered a non entity as I actually wear similar clothes, so it was suggested I bring something of my mothers. She is dead ten years but I had an old navy blue cloak which for the week became a sort of metaphor for my considered future history?
One of the short end products where we showed our piece to another group was all of us moving around with our eyes closed, we changed leaders but sounds emerged also, Christina was calling “mama” quietly, we felt our way around leaning, feeling the wall, I stopped in sun spots in the room, when you are in a place blind with others the other senses kick in, the room speaks, you hear the body breath, you sense the warm body before your hand is held the embrace is one of simplicity no more than a body in space connecting to another.
Later I attempted to stand on my head on top of the folded cloak. It was with great difficulty I tried what was a simple teaching skill I showed others for years as a PE teacher, no longer will my arms and hands support my weight, no longer can I push legs and feet to full inverted balance.
I attempted knowing I will fail but in the failing, and falling I somehow create a melancholic moment.
In another part of that day I had gone for a wander and found a long white piece of plastic piping in a skip, to me this had potential usage, I played with calling up the past to make the future, calling my kids in for dinner, blowing rude raspberries down somewhat Fluxus like but fun.
The week proceeded and we all blended at times, others not so but with a certain amount of re negotiation and give and take we proceeded to produce bits of possible work that with Dee at the helm of sorts we all rowed towards in our individual way yet collaborative fashion.
Oliver and Christina were working together on a really lovely conversation about lost loves or moments of love, a kiss in Oliver’s side and a sentence where a boy told Christina “the trees were crying,” caused by humidity in the hot clime. The interaction of this quaint, poignant telling was picked up and developed later.
We all were invited to Noelias apartment where she entertained and fed us with a Spanish omelette. On the way there we were chatting , I was telling her how changed that part of Dublin was, how my early memories were of cattle being herded out of open lorries along the cobbles, slippy with cow shit and the terrified animals herded down gangways into waiting ships for slaughter in England. How young boys ran along by the coal quays picking up coke and filling their carts to bring home for fuel.
In the fifties they were ragged urchins with bare feet and coal blackened hands and face.
This conversation was filmed the next day but more in relation to how I am wondering what I am in this new landscape. To me I might as well be in Barcelona, Hong kong, This was my future history,? Did I belong? Was I the new Dublin?
Earlier Noelia had brought me to The Basin in Dublin where she filmed me in my mothers cloak as I interacted with the surroundings and some people. It was an interesting experience for both myself and Noelia as she had lived for some time in this area and I had never seen it before, a little lost oasis in the city inhabited by odd wild Chinese ducks that had flown in or so the man who was painting the railings told me.
He also had lived there and pointed out his small Victorian terraced house that surrounds this park.
We met Thursday and flat out hard work was done on piecing all the pieces together.
In brief I think our twenty minute piece was utterly beautiful.
We were on first of the groups. We started as a normality, as we all met, I rummage around looking for an apple, bring some cups of tea over, ask Oliver does he want one.
The ladies from Spain and Greece are busy preparing food for us, a salad, They chat in Spanish, sort of funny and gestural, in the back ground is a grainy film of our meal in Noelias apartment.
The screen switches to me in the Basin near Gardener Street and the interview in the new dockland area (JFSC). The screen is huge, I stand up and simply put on my mothers cloak pull over the hood, let my arms move slowly up and stand motionless I then end by returning to my table take the cloak off and become the Now me again.
This action seemed to me minute and for the rest my part is to be simply be in their presence.
I was rewarded by a number of people liking this mix of screen presence and life presence.
Oliver then comes over. He is sweeping, he has a doomed feeling, He can’t stop brushing, has been brushing non stop for the week.
A really odd chaplinesque feel here, Noelia insists he takes a break, Christina sits down beside him, the start is about the flowers “she loves him she loves him not?”
This is tried in different languages inviting the audience to supply the version in Irish. This prompts the interwoven stories of the two impossible loves.
It is simple, but real, rehearsed but not? Fantasy but not? A mix of sensitivities that engages the audience.
I saw Dee get that fuzzy look ? A softness in the telling, a freshness and innocence that is compelling. One was never sure how it would be, little changes, funny moments.
The conversation ends, the pair are linked in a romantic chain Christina asks Oliver to dance, they dance to Dicky Rock “the candy store,” it’s a poignant sadness. Then the DJ asks the audience to dance, they join us and we dance to the rotating ballroom globe revolving its sparkle around the theatre /ballroom. It ends, we do not bow, we simply blend into the audience which has a break before the next group.
The following group have created work around each other memories, Fran’s visit to her dads former work place The Independent, Susies odd poem around the medicated self, Shanes note from his dad found years after he died, simply stating he has gone to the shops.
Recover recover (The Significance of now) was produced by Paul, Kim and Carmel, coming from interest in the moment directly after the moment of crises. It was interesting. The three of them fusing blending and yet remaining separate at times, a lovely rhythm with activity.
The last piece was Verano Azul (Blue Summer) created by Peter, Marcio Sarah and Aideen. It was dynamic, almost circus like with such humour and co ordination and flexibility. They managed to use four bikes in many ways, from creating instant sculpture, to a farce safety video where Marcio slams into a door and almost into the audience, to a funny film showing each on bikes happily smiling with lovely French like film music.
They then had a piece where individual pieces where Sarah hops on Marcios bike he’s now rather stiff and nervous on a old nelly bike, she hops on behind and does the funniest sexy bit where she strips him of his bike clips helmet wraps her legs around him and imagines ? It’s as good as “the feeling when you take off the stabilisers.”
Peter turns his bike upside down and we envisage his childhood playing with an old bike rein acting a trashing machine he observed on his farm.
These four pieces were shown over two nights in the Project Art Centre.
I made a small stand alone piece in the studio where I use an old ladder to make a short interactive video, more to test myself and use the area. I was pleased when I got an opportunity to showcase this and a pre runner to this Watching Reaction which has been mentioned in this column before.
The whole week was challenging, at times frustrating and exhausting, I wanted to test myself and to explore collaborative work.
I was also happy to discover others who actually are interested in my odd way of working, my reluctance to or ignorance of hi tech movie making, so my camera whirring is cool.
I am still at odds with the world, seem to cope for short periods and then become unstuck, misinterpret or tend to be too literal, outspoken or assertive, I learnt to back off, wait and ate some humble pie but was rewarded in some ways.
I rattled along amongst others for a week, but am happy to return to my other world, a bit like Alice taking the potion after which she grew too tall and got stuck in the house.
I live in several worlds which I find odd but interesting, I have the freedom to slide from one to the other, I make no money won’t have the long futures a 20 year old has but am rich in other ways…“Thank you mammy for helping me through this week,”
“ It s alright me old shigosach..”
Sunday 30th May 2010 10 44pm
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