Saturday, June 16, 2018

Notes from Dublin: Rambling, Emotional, Barely Coherent.

This has been a strange two weeks to be in another country, especially one that isn't a major world power. Ireland doesn't have the status that the US, Germany, or Canada enjoys and from my limited observations doesn't seem to mind too much. If I had to make a comparison, Americans seem to be searching for elusive perfect happiness while the Irish are content with what they have. And that may be too broad a generalization, but it feels right for what I've experienced since being here. There isn't a need to be the best, the biggest, the smartest, the most powerful. Their ego isn't wrapped up in their country or their flag. They are well aware of their size and the fact that other nations exist, and acutely aware that they depend on others to exist. And they're incredibly friendly and welcoming, though I have yet to find one who doesn't feel strongly about Trump (they don't like him, they think he's "a feckin' crazy man," and some are actually concerned that he might get angry and stop trading) and apparently the US was sending money over to the "No" side of the referendum on 8 which doesn't sit well with them either. Meanwhile back at home our president has insulted allies, incarcerated children, and met with a dictator. Among other things. I want to go home, but - do I want to go home?

I've always thought that contentment was a better thing to strive for than happiness.

Traveling in another country always forces me to stay present. I can't get lost in my own thoughts or obsessively worry while I'm navigating foreign streets. I have no idea where I'm going, in Ireland and Scotland I invariably trip over stones in the pavement, traffic goes the wrong way and I need to pay attention in order to not die. In Taipei, the further I strayed from main roads the less likely I was to encounter signs that were in both Chinese and English. And those damn scooters were everywhere and apparently had entirely separate traffic laws. Bikes are everywhere in any other country a way they just aren't in the US. Appliances are weird - I actually had to take a picture of the oven and send it to someone and ask "am I currently preheating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius?" Also - how great is it to have a kitchen that has a dishwasher AND a washer/dryer combination? Why on earth do we have these monstrously big machines back at home? I don't know that I know anyone here who owns a car and I know I don't know anyone who doesn't take public transportation.

While I've been here, Anthony Bourdain died. I'm going to binge watch his show once we're settled into our new place back in Minneapolis, since Netflix has extended it on their service. People have been talking about the kind of person he was and what he brought to this world, how he inspired people. He wasn't someone that inspired me greatly, I didn't know him well, but the episodes of his shows that I watched did strike me in their sincerity and bravery. He always went out of his way to live an authentic experience and showed tremendous respect for all aspects of a culture that he encountered. He went to countries that people don't visit - it wasn't the travel channel and he wasn't going to five star restaurants. No one was "better" than anyone else, no country or restaurant or chef more worth his time than another. He ate what the locals ate WITH the locals, with humility. How do we do that in our lives, explore with humility? Many people in the US don't feel the need to travel outside the states at all because they claim they can't even see all of their own country in their lifetime. Maybe it goes along with the sense of being the best, the biggest, the smartest, or striving to be - why go to a second-rate country? 

I'm in Ireland, not Indonesia or Lebanon or wherever, but one of the stagehands at Smock Alley yesterday was asking me where I had been that day and I pulled up google maps to show him, because I have no sense of direction and needed to find things on a map. I didn't stay in the Temple Bar area yesterday, there was a place called the Eatyard I wanted to check out because it looked like something from Austin, honestly, with street food, and it was near the mural for Savita Halappanavar (which I TOTALLY forgot to go find). I walked there and went through different parts of Dublin than I'd been in before, and it felt a lot more like walking through San Francisco as a local, not as a tourist (though who knows, maybe I was still in a touristy area). And then I had wings - Kansas City BBQ made with Irish Whiskey. I regret not being more adventurousI want to try to just walk out and explore more when I'm traveling and anytime I see a store selling green leprechaun shit I think, I'm in the wrong place. It's been a blessing to be working here and getting to know the stagehands at the theatre and other people through conversation. I don't know why it's easier for me to talk to people in Ireland than people in Minnesota.

I regret having spent such a short time in Taipei last summer, and not having been more adventurous with the food. Travis really would have been the ideal traveling partner there - I can totally see him in the night market trying everything, and then me following suit because I had someone with me who could laugh with me and encourage me.

I did one day take a tour bus up to Northern Ireland, to Carrick-a-Rede island, the Giant's Causeway, and Belfast. It was stunningly beautiful, the coast reminded me so much of New England - it had "sea lavender," and I honestly have no idea if that is what it's called or if we just called it that, but it was outside my uncle's house in Maine when I was a kid, and it was up there at the Giant's Causeway. I fell in a tidepool because I was so excited to be near one.

Our show came together really well and the audiences loved it, and it was definitely too bad it had such a short run. Feli - Felispeaks - is amazing, and deserves all the accolades for her performance and poetry in this. As does Dan Reid for his music. I've been very fortunate to have this experience. One audience member felt strongly that it belonged on a larger stage, more fully developed, and maybe it will have another life. At the end of all of this I'm incredibly tired. My body never rebounded from jet lag this time, and I've spent a good chunk of my time here this trip sick, just from stress and lack of self-care that finally caught up to me after these past several months. I had a massage today and the therapist talked about The Artist's Way - why does this damn book always come up in times like this? And yes, I've started it, a half dozen times. It is So. Much. WORK. But...maybe now that there will be some down time, I should try again.

I also took time to play with kittens yesterday, which was VERY therapeutic. I miss the kitties and can't wait to get home to them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

For the sake of momentum.

To say that things in our lives have been upended recently would be an understatement but at least now we are starting to see a moment when they'll be settled and a "normal" routine will resume, probably in July. Right now we are in the midst of packing up our house and moving everything we own into a storage unit and us into an Extended Stay hotel for the month of June (by which I mean Travis, Sansa, and Ygritte...I will be in Dublin for most of that time, and Asha is hanging out with Trish & Mark for a month since she won't know the difference anyway). On July 1, we move into our new place in Minneapolis. No more Saint Paul.

In the meantime there are a couple of things coming up that I'm excited about and since one of them went live today, here I am, looking forward.

1. Today an article that is really an ARG (so this morning Carly referred to is as an "experimental project" which I liked) was published and went live with Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. I worked on it with several other artists/writers/academics - Megan Boeshart Burelle, Carly A. Kocurek, Annemarie Perez, Anastasia Salter, Gillian Smith, and Tony Vadakumchery. But you wouldn't recognize that looking at it because in a very Jeanine Salla-move the article itself has been written by "Susan Kuchera" sometime after 2081 rather than 2018. It's called
The Weavers and Their Information Webs: Steganography in the Textile Arts.

2. I'm heading back to Dublin in June to finish up work on Lady Na Master & the Synaptic
Room with Collaborative Artists Company. This is what I was working on in April and we will be opening June 13 at Smock Alley Theatre! I am so excited about this project (my second overseas design) and working with this team has been great. I'll be in Ireland for about three weeks this time while Travis holds down the fort in Minnesota.

3. The third thing I'm currently really excited about is lighting Jesus Christ Superstar for The Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport, MA. Several of these artists are people with whom I worked last summer at Prescott Park and I'm excited to be back with them, plus I've obviously wanted to be lighting this particular show for only about 20 years. I saw preliminary drawings of the set at yesterday's production meeting and I'm so happy that I get to light this production. And it's great to be apparently continuing my annual summer tradition of lighting a musical.

Friday, May 18, 2018

This is Not For You.

"This is not for you" - the content warning in Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves.

So there is this discussion. There are some voices clamoring for safety standards within certain types of immersive theatre. There seem to be a couple of different concerns coming up - one of physical safety (whether or not a production team has ensured that an audience is physically safe, as in not going to trip and fall or be hit with falling scenery or other hazards) and one of mental or emotional safety (the area of trigger and content warnings).

A couple of really interesting things are going on here.

First, it's interesting that this discussion is coming out of the Los Angeles scene specifically. That's a very particular immersive theatre scene, one that is heavy on the haunts, emotional thrills, etc. The immersive theatre that companies like Third Rail Projects (NYC) or Punchdrunk (the UK) are known for is completely different and while some suggested safety rules might apply the needs aren't the same - in fact entirely different dangers might apply. LA also leans heavily toward themed entertainment, and themed entertainment is moving towards immersion - so it's easy for people to link the regulation of one with the other. I'm not from themed entertainment so I'm not going to talk about rollercoasters. Immersive theatre is not a damn rollercoaster. It's a piece of performance.

Only one of these is immersive

Two different ways of thinking. One is about looking at a product. The other is about looking at process. Art never, ever comes from product. Art always comes from process. There may be a product in the end - however I guarantee you that product is rarely finished, set in stone. Changes happen constantly. It evolves from opening to closing, and beyond even. Art, and process, are fluid creatures, and very difficult to pin down and define and standardize. The second you do that, they freeze and become solid, or turn to gas. And you have something that no longer fits your definitions.

Second, it's a somewhat new form of performance (yes, the person after whom I named the knot in my left shoulder is now lecturing me in my head on when this form of performance actually started and goddammit, I KNOW when it started, but for all intents and purposes RIGHT NOW, it's NEW).
By definition, new work is work we have yet to define, and asking for codified safety standards around new work means we know what that work is - we know everything about it, we can define it, we can explain it to insurers, to funders who support it (and they don't generally want to support work that is too experimental, that challenges perception), and to our audiences. To ourselves. New work just isn't that. Many, many, many times when creating new work we don't know what it is - devised theatre is a fun fun time. We all get in the space and figure it out on our feet. And this does include some immersive theatre.

Imagine if prior to 2016, someone had codified safety standards that said immersive theatre must only take place indoors and can only be x number of hours long. It cannot start with a months-long ARG - where would that leave you, Los Angeles?

There was a moment early on in The Lust Experience where participants were led to believe something was occurring that was not part of Lust. When it was over and a safety discussion was had, there were two camps of people - those who were outraged that it had occurred (many previous years' players) and those who didn't think it was a big deal (many newer ones).  I was angry at those who didn't think it was a big deal because the entire experience was built so heavily on trust between the participants and the creators, and it was demonstrated that someone was willing to fuck with that trust. When we participate in Lust, we are accepting a level of risk. We are saying that we are adults, we know what we're getting into, and we accept the consequences of that - so when our phones ring, and someone tells us to go outside and get in the van, we do that, and the illusion of the game can be maintained. That night, for me at least, demonstrated that this was not being taken seriously, and to me this was a very serious thing, this trust. It was the basis of the entire immersion.

I highly doubt that an anonymous phone call "get in the van" moment would pass anyone's codified safety standard.

But if you're talking about the installation, indoor immersive performance - you're still talking about theatre, performance, art - not a dark ride, not themed entertainment, not a rollercoaster. Theatre is always dangerous. Everyone who works it knows it. We do our best to mitigate that danger and every space is different. If you go to a LORT A theatre you're likely in one of the safest theatres in the country (and 33% chance you're in Los Angeles) but if you're in a warehouse theatre where lights are plugged in via orange extension cords? Not so much. Guess where most artists experimenting with new work live.

There was a beautiful moment during that production of Julius Caesar a few years ago in NYC, where the woman stormed the stage in protest because Caesar looked like Trump. Free speech and everything. Except her brilliant protest occurred during the assassination scene. We do a lot of things in theatre to make it safe. But once you put audience members and performers in the same space, the rules change. Audience members are unpredictable. They make choices. That one decided to make that production immersive all on her own, in the middle of the scene with the knives. Now the stage manager and actors are responsible not only for themselves but for her and whatever she is going to do, which wasn't rehearsed during fight call.

If you start to regulate art there are tradeoffs. And one of those tradeoffs WILL be the experimental new work. You will very quickly learn which artists were not following the rules you wanted in place - and you'll figure out that there were more than you realized. Most of us cut our teeth on productions that aren't safe. We know where all the not-safe stuff is, hopefully, and are able to mitigate the risks ourselves. But if the fire marshal were to walk in to the venue during a performance, they'd likely shut it down. I have fond memories of a certain puppet show where we (I) wanted so much fog pumped in that the director stood on top of a ladder for most of the first act, waiting to reset the smoke detector when it went off.
Aww you guys, remember the Blue Theatre?

Does that mean that you shouldn't be safe? No, it doesn't. But realize that more people, more companies, and more productions are unsafe than you think. Many of us are participating in risk assessment - mitigating the risks on a case by case basis as they come up, rather than standardizing across an entire field. This allows for new work to develop and define itself without having to run up against parameters and rules that limit it.

We are also doing a ton of work already to make small productions safe. And it's hard, and it's expensive. We don't have money, and there's less money every year. Even some of us who are the biggest safety nerds in the business work in unsafe spaces because good art gets made there. We do it knowing it's unsafe. We mitigate the risks for ourselves, and we make it as safe as possible for our audiences. There is never a guarantee of safety.

At the end of the day it's important to note that the capital-A Artists, the ones that many of us emulate and strive to be, who broke performance and art - they created things that were not safe, were not regulated. The pure research of the art world. Sometimes WE the audience have to research and accept the possible risks of being a part of something. That doesn't mean go to that immersive thing where the ceiling is falling in - but maybe it does mean stepping outside your comfort zone to put enough trust in someone to experience something that seems dangerous without knowing where it's going, or who is behind it.

And then there's the content warning issue. I just got over a 14 hour migraine so this seems like a good time to dive into this subject.


I'm going to say right off the bat that the creator of a piece of art gets to decide whether or not information about that piece of art is available to audience members. And creators have a right to their privacy. So no, do not expect to be able to contact creators and ask them what's in their shows. Do not expect to go online and find out the content. If it's there? Great. If they email you back? Great. If they don't? Deal.

Felix Barrett still hasn't written me back and I emailed him 9 years ago.

Everyone knows what happens at Sleep No More at this point. Punchdrunk went for years attempting to keep spoilers off the internet and eventually stopped but the entire reason anyone reads this damn blog is because of two entries, one of which is titled "I know where the ring is not." (There are no spoilers out there for the damn ring, sorry. I have asked Careena personally.) They went out of their way to keep you from knowing the content of their show.

Art should make us feel. We shouldn't hide from that. And in many cases I think we keep ourselves from being equipped to deal with the very things that we are trying to avoid when we put content and trigger warnings on art. I think we're doing it too much, in the name of protecting ourselves. There are absolutely instances where it is necessary and I'm not arguing those. But it's not the artist's responsibility to take care of us - it's our own.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Yes, we provide them for some things (epilepsy and fog and gunshots...though don't get me started on the fog) but beyond that I'm supportive of their use for sexual violence and I'm not sure about anything else. If you need a content warning to see a show - if that's a deal breaker - then don't see the show when the artist won't provide one. If it's a show in the horror genre, why do you need a content warning? That IS the content warning. That's like saying you need a content warning for a David Mamet or Martin McDonagh play. You don't. You know what's going to happen.

I heard of a thing that happens to some people during SOMNAI before I went to see it in London, and that thing happens to be one of the big Megan Deal Breaker Fears. I went anyway because I felt that if that happened to me, I could handle it. It didn't. But that was my choice.

It is not the artist's responsibility to take care of you emotionally. That's on you.

Don't get pissed at Lars von Trier after you see The House That Jack Built. Be thankful I didn't write about THAT yet.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Rambling VI: When God made me born a Yankee he was teasin'

Maybe we'll make Texas by the morning...

She told me that I didn't understand then but that one day I would. "Texas gets under your skin."

At the time we were moving from San Francisco so that I could go to grad school, and it was going to be three years - how could anyone want to live in Texas after living in San Francisco? I told her she was crazy.

But she was right. It took a number of years but she was right, and even though I spent 23 years growing up in New England I fell in love with Texas and consider it home now. 

There are so many things that make me think about how much I miss Texas but chief among them is anytime I experience people's apparent deliberate desire to dwell in negativity. I don't mean depression or negative thoughts but toxicity or endless loops of complaining or dishonesty and layers of untruth. I've certainly been guilty of it too but I frequently remind myself that the people in my life are here for reasons, and sometimes the difficult ones are here because I need to see how easily I could be that person if I'm not careful. I try to change and since leaving my Texas bubble I've felt the need to do that. Repeatedly. 

When the first breath of Texas comes in clean...

We don't have plans to visit Austin right now though we hope to soon...I've been back both summers since we left. Walking into Texas Summer makes the tension drain from my body - I'm back in the bubble and I'm on vacation (well usually it's a working vacation, I don't take real vacations). There's finally good food near me and people who know me. And HEB. 

I'm on an Indigo Girls kick right now and normally they remind me of HOME home, as in New Hampshire, as in UNH and high school and that whole time - back when I saw them in concert something like every other month. This time they are reminding me of Austin though.

With the farmland like a tapestry passed down through generations
And the peach trees stitched across the land

Texas peaches from Sunset Valley Farmer's Market...holy shit do I miss that. Travis grilling vegetables from our share so that we can make salsa. Jacob's Well. Driving through Wimberley. Driving through any part of Texas that wasn't a city, really. It does get under your skin, regardless of your politics or how you feel about guns. When Hurricane Harvey hit it was amazing to see how people across the state came together to help - and former Texans from all over the country. It's its own country.

What I won't give
To have the things that mean the most
Not to mean the things I miss

Austin isn't what it was and even if it had remained the same I was moving on. The changes that the past three years have brought are incredible, the new adventures and travel, the research and the people I've met and the projects I've been a part of and the leadership opportunities. And the students, the teaching, which has been the best part. I wouldn't in a million years trade it for home. But then Glass Half Full comes and tours up here and I nearly fall apart hugging people that are real to me. 

It's so difficult to feel good, to have that feeling, when you're on permanent leave from home. And it's so easy to fall into the trap of negativity. Our world is built for it. Three years and I've made some incredible art and met some amazing people but without having home close by I've also let a lot of negativity and toxicity into my life, and it's taken the past four months for me to really understand that I need to actively fix this. That I'm the only one who can.

There are things for which I'm incredibly grateful - things that have entered our lives since we left Texas in 2015 and moved to Minnesota.

1. Being in the right place at the right time so that Travis didn't die of his heart attack.
2. The friendship and collaboration I've had with Torry Bend.
3. Designing for Mixed Blood Theatre
4. Traveling to Edinburgh for the Fringe, and working in mixed reality performance. Everyone I met there, my entire Transmission family.
5. Traveling to Taipei.
6. My current work with Collaborative Artists Company in Dublin.
7. Everything that has happened and everyone I've met as a result of The Tension Experience (I probably never would have been able to afford all the trips to Los Angeles without this job, never mind been able to publish without the academic affiliation).
8. Building a profile in media design and continuing to build a profile in immersive theatre.
9. Working on the upcoming ATHE conference.

10. Teaching - learning how much I love it and meeting all of my students who have truly changed my life.

Also -

11. A greater capacity for letting incredibly unfair situations go.

Well I better learn how to starve the emptiness and feed the hunger...

Monday, April 16, 2018

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground.

Saturday morning I flew to London. I saw a piece of immersive theatre twice, with an hour break in between. Same show. And in the evening I flew back to Dublin.

I've never been to London before and this certainly doesn't count as "going to London," but with the amount that I love immersive theatre you would think I'd have done it by now. I haven't. London is the center of the current immersive theatre quake. When I found out about this particular show I absolutely had to see it - because I was close by, because it was an immersive show in London, because it was mixed reality, and because of its subject matter, sleep/lucid dreaming/states of consciousness.

So, on my one and only time in London, the cab driver dropped me off in front of a black building on Pear Tree St. with the word SOMNAI painted on front. This was the venue for dotdotdot London's show. I had a couple of hours until my "appointment" so I walked down the street to a coffee shop and had what was probably the best coffee I've had since I left the states. (Steph Smart, you were supposed to have introduced everyone to cream by now, you are not doing your job.)

I don't want to spoil this show and there are things in this show to spoil - not plot twists but surprises that you want to discover on your own, not be aware of in advance. There are some really amazing things going on in this piece. There are also some not so amazing things and some problems that are likely due more to where we are at with the use of this technology more than anything to do with the artists involved. What frustrated me about it was how much potential there was for everything to be truly awesome, how close it was, and still wasn't there. It reminded me a lot of another piece of immersive theatre that was doing something new and coming so close to something really exciting but wasn't quite getting there. I wanted it to land every quadruple axel and it wasn't, but it landed several.

The really really good stuff: the majority of the physical, real world design work was beautiful. The justification for the VR technology was good. The way it was used 2/3 of the time was really good - I've never experienced VR outside of video games, and never had the freedom to move around in an environment. There was a moment where I was told to cross a bridge and I was actually convinced that I had to cross this rickety bridge and step over gaps that weren't there, because it was all in virtual reality. My body and mind were sold, it was real. The fact that there were physical objects in the actual room that lined up with the virtual objects so that I was actually holding onto the bridge's railing was what convinced me.

SOMNAI also deserves huge credit for legitimately freaking me out. In another section, everything was real, real actors, set, nothing virtual. And there was a moment where something happened in a painting. I still have no idea what it was. I saw it, and the girl I was standing next to (another audience member) saw it. It was over in two seconds before we were pulled out of the room. Everything else that happened in that sequence was something that might scare someone who wasn't me but that one thing was uncanny and I didn't see enough of it to know what it was or to figure out what the hell was going on. It's great stagecraft if you're able to make the doors close without showing me the mechanism, or the rocking horse rocks on its own beautifully with no wires visible - but that moment when I catch something weird and unexplainable in the corner of my eye, that's the thing that leaves an impression on my brain. Do something weird, don't explain it. It's a show about dreaming after all.

The less good stuff: SOMNAI runs into a common problem that a lot of similar immersives run into. They are pushing large numbers of people through essentially on rails, and group A has to wait while group B finishes up in room C, so group A gets put in a waiting room for a bit. Those waiting rooms, from a design point of view, are key. That's where your audience sits and has a chance to actually look. That's when they are digesting and thinking about the show, and how they feel about it. Don't put them in a position where they have a chance to start seeing the cracks. Make sure those spaces are active, fully designed, interesting to be in and look at. Make them more than just waiting areas. Make them libraries where the notebooks and journals of your scientists are stored, or actual waiting rooms with fake magazines about your doctors' research on sleep. Or, given the technology and artistry displayed in the bar at the end, show off all that augmented reality and projection mapping in those spaces.

Which brings me to something that I've seen discussed in other reviews of this show - the narrative. There was a point in the first show where a pre-recorded voice made a reference to "you humans" or something to that effect, and I was wondering wait - who is the person speaking? Are they not human? And the second time through, before that section, I found a journal that contained what might have been a clue about this. Suddenly, there was context for things. Not a ton, but the beginnings of it. SOMNAI in general lacks a context. In everything we put on stage but especially everything we put in immersive theatre we need to be asking why - why this book, why this photo, why this letter, why this...etc. Because the audience will spend a LOT of time looking closely at everything and you need to understand why these characters had these things in this room. When I look at my own house, the way objects are arranged tell a story about the people who live in it. It's easy to tell whether we've had a busy week, whether things are stressful or not, whether I'm depressed, etc. based on how much mail is left out on the kitchen table. If you were to dig through the stuff I store in our basement you will eventually find a packet of letters from the early 90s, which were all written to me by a pen pal I had back then in Norway. These things tell stories about who we were and who we are. So...what the hell is SOMNAI? Why SOMNAI? Why this room? Why am I even here? Why do I need a guide? Am I asleep? Are you making me sleep? Is this part asleep? Am I awake? None of this is really clear. Is it all one big long lucid dream?

Tech-wise, I had very few complaints. I am very forgiving when it comes to VR tech because I know that we don't yet have the Holodeck and I still want to be experimenting with this tech in performance. But we need to work on the transitions from actual reality to virtual reality - how audience members move in and out of different worlds, realities, and spaces seamlessly. That's not a SOMNAI problem, that's an everyone problem.

There are plenty of other smaller things I have to say, but it's after midnight, I need to pack, because I'm heading back to the states in the morning. I have one more post to write about this trip and it will be an epilogue.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Notes from Dublin, Days Two and Three.

Our second day was productive as we first discussed "Part One" and then mapped out "Part Two" - this is becoming a four part performance piece with the second part being the immersive/interactive/installation component. Since we are performing on two "planes," the grounded area (the stage) and the full height of the Boy's School (aerial), this part essentially draws the connection between the two worlds and helps the audience to participate in that, as well as helps them to draw those connections in their own identities and hopefully to empathize with those who are different. That is the current, vague idea at any rate. This is all likely to change.


After a free-write exercise from David we were able to mostly nail down and agree on the look of this part.

At lunch we went for a walk and Feli took us into Claire Garvey's shop. Garvey is a couture designer that I hadn't heard of, we met her and Greg had fun trying on a few pieces.

We also found even MORE signs of the Repeal the 8th vote coming up:

The day ended with a trip to the Abbey Theatre to see Here All Night. Which was...odd. I wish I could say "I saw Beckett at the Abbey and it was great!" but that's not how it ended up. The actor, Conor Lovett, was fantastic. I could have watched him perform for the whole evening, but the rest lost me. 


Day Three was another productive day, our last day at the NCAD figuring out what the hell this thing is anyway...tomorrow we head to the Dublin Circus Project to meet up with our other performer, Enda from Guerilla Aerial. At the end of today's session we had a rough idea of a show/installation/performance/immersiveinteractivething and a way forward for the next two months.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Notes from Dublin, Arrival & Day One.

Yesterday I arrived in Dublin after an overnight flight. I took a cab to David's house (he's the co-artistic director of Collaborative Artists Company in Dublin, who along with Guerilla Aerial are co-producing this project) and had breakfast with him before setting out on a walking tour of parts of the city. My brain was fried from lack of sleep and the flight so I feel as though I only understood half of what he was telling me but hearing parts of Irish history that I know from such places as Sean O'Casey plays and U2 songs actually put into geographical context was really neat. Walking past a building, he said to me "you could probably look up your family in there" and I thought could I? Honestly I hadn't thought about that. My dad's grandparents came over to Canada, then moved down to Jamaica Plain, and we don't have many records or any connections at all really. I have an aunt on that side and her family, but no one else, and certainly no living connections actually in Ireland. And given how unsentimental I tend to be, I just hadn't thought about coming over here specifically to research my family. I feel like I'm back in Edinburgh. I feel comfortable here. And like I'm going to be run over by a bicycle any minute.

Samuel Beckett Bridge.
Today was the first day I met with the bulk of our team, so for me that is "Day One." In the morning it was me, David, Feli, and Dan. Feli and Dan had been working on combining her spoken word poetry with his music and had several ideas that were inspired by Fela Kuti's "Lady." After lunch we were joined by Olga, and then later Greg.

Based on these conversations we started to grow a structure for a performance which excites me a lot. But, it's only day one, and we are still missing half our performers. We don't hook up with Enda until Friday. But the energy difference in us - being in the room versus being in a meeting via Zoom - is incredible. 


This started off long ago as a piece inspired by Repeal the 8th, which has a referendum coming up in May. There are signs everywhere, both for and against. The terrain is at once familiar to me, because of 2013 in Texas, and also completely different: it's straight up illegal to get an abortion here, rather than difficult and frustratingly inconvenient to the point where it may as well be illegal (which is the point). 


Tomorrow is Day Two, we are hopefully checking out our June performance venue, and tomorrow night I am seeing a show at the Abbey Theatre!

Notes from Dublin: Rambling, Emotional, Barely Coherent.

This has been a strange two weeks to be in another country, especially one that isn't a major world power. Ireland doesn't have the ...