Sunday, November 21, 2010

Selkie: Process

It's been over two weeks since DVT's latest incarnation of the Selkie opera performed in Houston and I'm just now sitting down to write about the experience. This project started last January with an installation/opera piece at the Creative Research Lab in Austin. Between January and November it grew significantly into a wholly original piece of work created by several amazing artists.

I arrived in Houston on Friday, October 29 with my giant iMac, brought to facilitate creating and editing of video material used in the production. In just the week that I was there, the amount of video content in the show almost doubled and then was cut down to less than what we had thought it would be. I was reminded of a professor telling a class that I was in that design was in large part about how often you are willing to redo something - definitely true of our work on this production. Originally I had planned on using two projectors, one on the set/installation pieces created by David Brown and another on the gorgeous wood plank wall in Obsidian Arts Space. As we moved forward, we actually added a third projector creating a keystoned image on the floor. Three projectors. There's a picture of me out there running the light board and three laptops - I look...busy. Once we saw all the projections and David's set, we discussed how much video was actually needed for this piece and eventually cut the floor and back wall projectors, and decided to use the one on the set to add in water textures. This was definitely the right call - the music, costumes and set were all so rich and beautiful that we risked overwhelming them by using too much video.

On Saturday the 30th I caught my first glimpse of the set designed and created by David Brown - three gorgeous columns wrapped in plastic wrap. They reflected light and video beautifully. My friend from grad school, Sarah Mosher, came down from Seattle to design costumes for us. I love working with Sarah and was so happy to have her in this collaboration. She added to the lushness of the piece with gorgeous sea-colored costumes. My days in Houston were filled with video work at Misha and Dave's house and working on the lighting design at Obsidian. Elliot Cole's music was stunning. When we were in rehearsal it was honestly difficult to concentrate on the pieces of the production I was responsible for - the music grabbed my attention and carried me through the one hour opera, and before I knew it we were at the end of rehearsal. Chills.

Monday the 1st - I was at tech in the evening when I got a text message from Travis - I had won an award back in Austin and he was getting up to accept it for me. I honestly wasn't expecting this at all so when I got the text, I of course dropped my phone, had to dig around in the dark to find it. (If you're not aware of my ridiculous need to drop things and trip over other things, it's just seriously bad. Not in a lame Bella Swan kind of way. Just bad, and clumsy, and ridiculous.)

Later I learned that Travis, in his acceptance speech, thanked the right people and then thanked the cats. Then, he thanked Kara Thrace. And THEN thanked David Bowie. If I'm ever in another position where I have to give a speech like that, I"ll just let him do it.

Because Misha is in the opera as well as directing it, she has video to watch from all of our rehearsals. I get any work notes from her the next day while she's poring over the previous night's footage and then take care of them prior to the evening's tech.

Travis and Chris came out to Houston to see the second performance.

I've worked on new work before, created something from the ground up. This time I was left with a very different feeling, pride in what we had done (or begun, since we are still continuing Selkiing), feeling like I was an integral part of this new piece being born.

Next up for me: Returning to the FOREST - aiming to have the second Forest open by December 1. Also, Carousel.
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