Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Clear skies and smooth sailing (so far)



Part of the ideas and research wall, photo by David Williams

The great ramshackle version 1.0 ship has slipped its moorings for its latest and perhaps most perilous adventure... Staggering out of our other lives, the devising company has reconvened and its struggling to the best of our ability to make a new show. Or at the moment, trying to remember the detail of what the show is about, and to reconnect with the body of research that we've produced so far.

Deeply Offensive and Utterly Untrue, version 1.0's latest act of 'civic archeology' in the theatre, has begun rehearsals. Closely observed by a group of ten students from the Dept. of Performance Studies at the University of Sydney, we have now completed two days of work, and are intensely engaged in a shared process of making sense of thousands upon thousands of pages of reportage and inquiry transcripts. So far, signs are positive, but it remains to be seen if we can move beyond the endless complexity of talk and into the realm of the staged performance. We know that we can, and we've done it before, but the leap from chair to floor isn't always easy, particularly when the question of what can exist on the floor is strongly contested from moment to moment. Ideas leap from body to body in the collective brain, a brain that rarely agrees with itself, but always has something to say, and can keep talking for hours on end.

My favourites from today: the role of video in this work is not the exposure of strategies of image manipulation, as in The Wages of Spin, but is rather to facilitate the production of delirium. The problem of being an audience in such work that places ethical demands (a minute's silence for the dead of Iraq since the invasion. Including the evil dictator) is to be forced into the position of having to demonstrate what one thinks, in public, and be held accountable for these thoughts. We might not be able to produce accountability for DFAT and AWB through a theatre performance, but we can sure try to find it in ourselves...

Big group decisions made today. Namely, the seats will be in a block on the railway end of the space. In eight hours of continual talk, relentless aesthetic, political and pragmatic debate, this constitutes meaningful progress. Leaps and bounds are scheduled for next week...

3 comments:

Noam Plume said...

I'd love to keep hearing more about your devising process. Please give us an update as often as your sanity will allow.

What are some of the steps you have taken each time and what are the unique/different ways that this show is evolving?

Cheers

David Williams said...

thanks Noam, I'll see how far my sanity can stretch!

As I suggested in a previous post, every show requires a new approach, despite the devising company being more or less convinced that the work will throw up similar challenges to the last one, and that the answers from last time will assist. For instance, after dealing with Hansard for two performances, we thought we had got pretty good at dealing with parliamentary talk. Unfortunately, as we've discovered, a Commission of Inquiry structures time and uses language in radically different ways. And an inquiry with 8,500 pages is a very different beast than one with 2,188. No single company member is able to keep the whole thing in their heads, and so we focus on details rather than seeking an overview of the whole process. Just a couple of thoughts... I post more later

dw

David Williams said...

sanity already overstretched it seems... 'I'll' post more later. d'uh.

note to brain: remember grammar. And syntax.

dw