Advil and the creation of creation
I am battling (granted much like a solider who refuses to fight due to lack of sleep) through a cold, so the past few days I have been on a steady dose of Advil cold and sinus. Summer colds are the worst variety of the virus, if it were winter it seems applicable to the feeling sorry for yourself feeling that often sets in during those downy months. Being doped on cold medication is much like being one and a half steps behind everything going on, luckily I don't have my driver's license or else Whitehorse might have been torn apart, - laundromats would be replacing their store fronts, the Super Store might have had to hire a security team, or the Yukon river might have been the proud owner of a ninety something Pathfinder; granted this could be the case even if I wasn't on the cold medication, I have a history of recklessness.
Anyway as I fought through the haze of both virus and dope this week I have come to understand what I believe to be the fundamental gain of this initial stage of the Devised Yukon Project. As we have been discussing on this forum, Ker Wells worked with us for just about two weeks and gave us a glimpse into is "process" or "method" of creation. The term 'method' later came up in discussions, and I am going to continue to use that term instead of process. 'Process' to me is the journey that happens when a method is implemented to generate work and thus formulate material, and is different everytime that method is tested. What has become evident in a very tangible fashion this week is that this collective birthed by Sam and Jessica has no method. YET. But the sprouts began to show themselves.
When I look back at why I came to choose theatre over... well anything else I could have done neglecting the obvious brain damage I must have suffered at one time, and I look at the works that inspired me to make the leap into this line of work, the most pivotal work was produced by a creative team generating fresh work in a collaborative fashion. Sure the team has been able to eventually publish the work they have created and garnered world renown, but they started the same as this collective, with an empty room and some possible exercises or experiments to mine or sift out a story to tell and an aesthetic to tell it.
I have been relatively set on a goal of finding a story first in hopes that once we have a story or at least a hinge to begin discovering our aesthetic so that we can all have the same root to relate back to to make sure indeed we are serving the story as honestly as possible. At this stage in both my own artistic development and what it seems Sam and Jessica hope to take away from these two months, I must let this ideal go. This week, within a handful of hours, there was a clear juxtaposition of how the collective strategy can be utilized and in turn also can be exhausted and frustrated.
There have been a number of directors that I have worked with where I have felt like I have failed. Failed what? Maybe I could say vision, maybe I could say idea, but what I will say is that I felt like I failed because I was never as good as what they saw in their head. Sometimes in these incidences I have felt like the show would have been perfect if they had cloned themselves, dressed themselves in different costumes and done the whole play as an omni-bot. These times have been the most unsatisfying experiences of my work history, my imagination and my presence felt needed only because cloning has yet to become an immediate and accessible science. The collective faced one of those incidences this week, and not from a tyrant as I may have eluded to, but from one of the members who presented an ambitious idea that they were so excited by that they had fully formed a beginning middle and end without room for exploration and room for the rest of the collective's imaginations to be engaged. This is so tricky. I have a respect for those that can fully form both their vision and desired effect but it can feel on the inside that you are trying to fit yourself into a painting and not live a circumstance; and this was not to the fault of the member whatsoever, they were working from an honest place of inspiration and only wanted to contribute to the gathering of material. Nonetheless it was frustrating and ended with tears and myself taking a couple of hours not saying a word. This way of creation is not a method, it is human puppetry or paint by numbers with dull crayons and neglects, whether maliciously or innocently, the fact that everyone needs to breathe and that everyone needs to feel their imagination is of worth and contributes.
What was integral about this experience, once the emotions had cleared, is that as a collective we started to sharpen our method by nixing an obvious failure of generation. The shape that the idea finally took after we struggled through some hours of very little actual work may eventually be used in the future, but it became very clear why this approach is so deadly. (Peter Brook talks about this realization very elloquently in that book of his The Empty Space - he talks about how his first day of rehearsal on a certain show he had shown up with a floor plan and figurines of each character and had mapped out every move of the play in his head. After the first day he threw everything out.)
So today we worked very differently, though still with a member of the collective stepping out to guide or lead an exploration of an idea they had conceived. Without getting specific, what happened was a serious of exercises and experiments that required the rest of collective to firstly be there, and secondly to contribute immediate and reactive imaginings of the idea/concept/vision being explored.
It is beginning to become clearer to me that a method in this work is a kit of exercises and experiments to tactically draw from to generate work and material, that both focuses the ideas or concepts that are to be explored, and also gives the collective body the liberty to breathe and imagine.
Sometimes over the past few weeks we have been blindly throwing ourselves into knee-jerk improvs and odd games, but as we play with the formation of a method and the gathering of this kit of exercises and experiments it is a commendable process that this collective is working on: we are discovering our method, our method of discovery, and once a method is found any story can built.