“A great idea and good performance. I think the ideas could do with a little more development“.
When Anja said let’s do a version of Transformation for the scratch night at Hall for Cornwall, in a moment of blissful ignorance, I said OK, why not? Then I was left pondering what on earth was a ‘scratch’ night. Well, it turns out that this is an opportunity for writers and performers to stage an experimental piece of work whilst still in the early stages of development, in front of a live audience in order to test their performance and hopefully gain some sort of feedback, such as the above comment, one of several. (For a short video clip of the event go to KerstenWoods Productions)
As our co-conspiritors who have been working with us on the Transitions project have melted away like snow, this left just Anja as our solo performer. And it didn’t take long to realise that I would need to step in to fill the void. Help! You cannot be serious? OK, so I’ve recently done a couple of workshops with Daniela Schlemm who has trained in the Laban method of physical theatre (that’s another story), but that in no way qualifies me in the fine art of performance. I only took part in the workshops out of a curiosity to understand what ‘performance’ means. I had absolutely no intention of getting up on a stage in front of an audience. Having now done it, the best way I can describe it is like Edgar Degas’s (1834-1917) quote about art: “Art is not what you see, it’s what you make others see”. For me, performance is not what you see, it’s what you (attempt to) make others feel.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as agonising as I had imagined it would be. There were 6 different performance slots scheduled for the evening, ‘Transformation’ being one of them. The Assembly room was packed, punters were being turned away at the door, and the organisers were both encouraged and delighted by the turnout. There were several moments whilst waiting our turn, prior to going on stage, when I wanted to flee or get drunk, or both. A heavy weight seemed to suddenly descend on my bladder, and time itself seemed to be magnified during our brief moment on stage. Despite the nerves, I’m pleased we did it. We also got some useful feedback which ranged from “Brilliant use of physical theatre. Needs to be more engaging.” to “….. no intensity but at least it was mercifully short!”
As the writer and art critic, Lori Waxman said performing for her is a provocative tension. For me, it is a tension too far and not something I am gagging to repeat. I am more comfortable being judged for the things I have already created behind closed doors having been through all the mental agony and ecstasy in the privacy of my studio. I don’t even have to be present during an exhibition of work as what I have to say is communicated in visible form in the artwork. Simple! Having said all that, at times it is good for the soul to be taken out of our personal creative comfort zones, if only to appreciate what really matters. I thank Anja for gently guiding me through the process and allowing me to do something I would never have conceived of doing without her help. And I am just a little bit proud of what we managed to achieved in such a short space of time.