Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reflections of a Performance Masterclass with Richard Layzell

Well, I may have lost a lot of information but I can at least post some reflections!

2/4 Day one of the Performance workshop- 
I think the warm up was an important part of today- we got to know a bit of each other and get comfortable with what the idea of performing is.  Surprisingly enough the class was really easy to get along with, and doing the funny exercises and unrehearsed, unplanned performances were pretty smooth and fun- I thought it would be kind of awkward to do some stuff- especially with people I didn’t know.  But actually all shyness was gone.  Marisa said the same thing- she was usually really shy but she felt totally comfortable there. I think it must have something to do with the mindset coming into a room, a course, or a new set of people.  

2/5 Day two of performance- 
Today we broke into groups and everyone was able to execute their ideas for performance with the help of three to four teammates.  We got the gopro, which was handy, except that the battery died during the first performance so I wasn’t actually able to use it.  Marisa wound in fabric with it on her head, we wanted to see it spinning but it didn’t even capture that.  Then we went to the Overgate area- stationed into three spots like a triangle and everyone hit a contemporary dance pose- while I went around and tried to discretely get photos and videos of them all. People were really interested in what they were doing, though they really freaked some people out! Marisa got yelled at “What are you doing you fucking weirdo?!” - surprising because she was the only one who was actually in front of an art gallery- a place most people expect wierdness! She held her pose which is awesome!  I saw one guy take a photo of Sarah, but other than that she just had a few people looking at her.  Katie was so good!! Not only was she only in a tank top, (vest in british) but she also was literally as still as a statue. No doubt because of her life model job- but still amazing. I caught a lot of people looking at her- some for very extended periods of time.  I heard two conversations- one was “ should we ask her if she is ok?” the other was “she’s not even doing anything… “ definitely was not something people in Dundee were used to seeing. I find this very funny- because that day there were so many street performers! They all either had their guitar, or a microphone, one guy was even dressed in a big suit- but not as many people- at least that I saw- paid as much attention to them!  
After I got all my documentation and recollected all the girls- we went into the burgh coffeehouse to warm up- decent coffee but kinda pricey, but very nice except for the bathrooms (which weren’t terrible, but could use improvement).  then we went into the white space to film Sarah’s work- three women in white, red, or black, eating apples- she says it is feminist- I still have no idea but that’s fine I am glad I was able to help out.  The video was played backwards when presented- a touch which was appreciated by all, I believe. Katie’s came last, as she left early yesterday and didn’t know about the performace and so she hadn’t had any ideas.  First, we were going to throw water at her and take advantage of the waterproof gopro, then she decided on walking backwards up the stairs and down.  This was harder than I thought- I definitely could not go as fast as normal. But after filming that, something beautiful happened- the stairwell we were in was light perfectly by the sunlight- casting Sarah’s curvy silhouette onto the wall on our left- a perfect feminine image, and the way the panes on the window are- each of our figures had a panel to frame our body figures.  So we set the tripod up and captured all of our body shadows in various posing and dancing in panels- like Go go dancers.  It was actually kinda of fun and feminine-even if people were walking by! The best part was that the camera came from a different angle than we were seeing, so the videos looked very different than we expected it would, the shadows were flopped in size and distance.  
We returned to the white space to meet up with the group again, and then to go out and film Diedre’s performance by all of us.  This was a funeral procession of sorts, about the Scottish reformation. The map of Scotland was carried in, followed by a casket of the Scottish flag with whiskey, and then all of us carrying in Scottish drinks- IRN BRU, Whiskey, Tennent’s beer cans, and multiple local ales and wines.  The idea was fun and we all kind of walked around, were very quiet and solemn and mostly in black, created X’s with our bodies and our arms, and really just kind of experimented- then we were able to open a few bottles and CHEERS- drink up to a good performance and the death of Scotland- part of the culture, naturally.  Unfortunately the warehouse was very cold, so laying down only happened once and I think Diedre wanted a bit more- but it got her a lot of footage and performing and we all had fun and got free drinks, a successful day for all!  

2/6  Today was the last day in the performance masterclass with Richard Layzell. We had a last performance, where we invited people during lunch to come watch us- at that point we had no idea what we were going to do.  My group talked about playing childrens game that never ended, like “duck, duck, goose” Quackdilyoso, etc.  We eventually decided that we would play that the ground was lava- we could only navigate the room using furniture and never touch the floor- if we did, we died.  I had a very dramatic death! There were a lot of things going on at once, including really subtle ‘performances’ which can really be anything- like talking to people in chinese who don’t understand and telling people to sit and then telling them to move a few moments later.  Claire and Deidre had the floor while they played the mirror game we did at warm up- with their own twist of adding emotions and spoken word.  We followed through to the white room for a drum performance, with movement by two others- Claire was molding them and they held the pose, while Jazz played the drum to amplify the emotion or heartbeat and really touch on human emotion.  We went up to the architecture floor- and on either side of the balcony we had a conversation across the air space between our audience below us and the sky roof above us.  For a final piece we proceeded downstairs single file, walked around the green pits again.  There were like 6 people in there, and we made them so uncomfortable that they moved! Way better than people not paying attention- all this while Jazz did his falling off the chair performance at the same time.  It was definitely interesting. We watched all of our performances from yesterday too, everyone brought something really different to the table which is excellent. Some performances were meant to be viewed in video form, after, and some were meant to have an audience and then documented. My biggest surprise was that there were performances which viewed not as documented but as a video piece- this makes total sense to use the group as actors but I never really thought of this as performance until now. 
Richard told us about some of his past performances, including an alternate ego he used with the initials BS- who was very loud and obnoxious and starting to join a revolution.  He also cleans different things around the world and takes videos of it. People apparently don’t even notice this- even if he is in a suit- because it is a normal thing, non-destructive, and considered to be “Low”. In China, he even stood in the subway where loads and loads of people were making foot traffic, and no one even bumped into him.  Crazy! 

This was a very successful and fun course to take, we made great friendships and explored a variety of new things. I highly recommend Richard to anyone who gets the chance to work with him.

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