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RealTime-Performance Space Forums

2001-2007


 Da Contents H2

August 21 2007
a meeting with steve dietz
RealTime, Performance Space, d/Lux/MediaArts & Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council Forum

July 31 2006
There's research and there's research
RealTime-Performance Space Forum: art practice as research (full transcript)

August 8 2005
Forum: Wanted: Creative Producers
RealTime-Performance Space Forum: August 8, 2005 (full transcript)

November 17 2003
Getting The Word Out: Writing for Performance and Dance
RealTime-Performance Space Forum, November 17

August 18 2003
Video + Art = ?
RealTime-Performance Space Forum, Monday 18 August 2003

November 5 2002
The secret life of touring
RealTime-Performance Space forum, November 5

April 8 2002
Size Matters
RealTime-Performance Space Forum, April 8 2002

September 3 2001
The Place of the Space
RealTime-Performance Space Forum, Sept 3, 2001

June 4 2001
Body regimes
RealTime-Performance Space Forum, June 4, 2001 (long version)

 

Getting The Word Out: Writing for Performance and Dance

RealTime-Performance Space Forum, November 17


Performance space, Sydney
With guest speaker, writer-director Jenny Kemp
Hosts: Virginia Baxter, Clare Grant

Speakers: Julie-Anne Long, Nikki Heywood, Gail Priest. David Williams and Stephen Klinder (from Version 1.0), Morgan Lewis, Brian Fuata, Victoria Spence, and Alicia Talbot and Cicily Ponnor (from urban Theatre Projects)


Virginia Baxter
Welcome to No 10 in this series of RealTime-Performance Space forums. For those of you who are here for the first time this series of discussions on issues of arts practice and politics has covered topics such as:

Clare Grant
Sound in contemporary performance, Design, Touring, Vision, Training, The Small to Medium sector, Cultural Protocols, Touring and The Place of the Space. The idea of these forums is to create, in the midst of all the hectic doing, some space for thinking and talking together as a community of artists.

Virginia
The forums are taped and transcribed and appear in edited form in the print publication of RealTime and in their entirety online at the RealTIme website.

Clare
Tonight we focus on the word.

Virginia
In what was described for quite some time as a non text-based medium.

Clare
What is that so called "text" that much of contemporary performance is supposedly not based on, I wonder?

Virginia
Good question.

Clare
What is the written word? Is it the prompt for the spoken word? A list of sequential actions? A few squiggles on a shifting bundle of Post-it stickers? Does your use of it include the dramaturgical or choreographic thinking processes that go on or before someone records lists of chosen actions. How do you go about describing those physical or verbal actions?

Virginia
Whatever the questions, we'd agree I think that words have had a remarkable resurgence in contemporary performance. Sounds become words in improvising bodies, words murmur, spit and rap into microphones, are broken into bits, reproduced verbatim, plundered, projected, sung-spoken solo, chorally. Dancers are speaking. Words intersect bodies. Kellaway does Albee! Video voices interrupt live ones, words make difficult sense as they're scrawled onto walls.

Clare
In performance we can watch words conjure, repel, tease, mystify, confirm, protect, seduce, resist, cajole, lie, divert, upend, calm. destroy. Words can make us remember, and they can help us to mourn, to celebrate, and they do so in multiple forms and frames.

Virginia
In celebration of this resurgence, we've decided on a wordfest and we've invited some of the principal players to tell us how they generate and shape words. People like Julie Anne Long who does more than gesture at words, who uses them to generate movement.

Clare
David Williams And Stephen Klinder from Version 1.0 who (usually,it seems with the assistance of a range of stimulants) conjure imaginative worlds contingent on words...whose relations to words "alternates between the throwaway line and being possessed. Getting carried away or thrown away."

Virginia
Nikki Heywood who unwinds words out of movement, who gestures and textures with words. Gail Priest who pulls apart and composes with the sound of words.

Clare
Victoria Spence who comes across words through speaking...for whom as she puts it "all the material for the text had already been spoken to me, by me, near me etc. How I came upon what I wanted to say was just by seeing what was left in my body from these encounters."

Virginia
Morgan Lewis who spontaneously freestyles words; Brian Fuata whose words are written on his body.

Clare
Alicia Talbot who translates words into texts for action; and Cicily Ponnor who makes marsala with words. And many others here who play with words and connect them to the body and to the spaces around them, who we hope will add their own way with words.

Virginia
Our special guest tonight is writer-director Jenny Kemp who goes to the heart and the foot and the breast and the elbow of words, to the time of words, the kinaesthetic and the place of words as they unfold inside intense, everyday (usually female) states of being.

Clare
Jenny has also managed to elicit these states for the many participants in her now famous workshops, as many of you here can affirm.

Virginia
On her notes on the performance text for Still Angela her most recent work which we'll finally get to see here at Performance Space, Jenny notes that while the verbal language is written prior to contact with her group of regular collaborators, the visual/aural/physical language and the overall form of the work are developed with the full group present. In Still Angela we watch a woman in her 30s negotiate transition. It's a sensual, multi-layered, beautifully written work in which the experience of one woman breaks into 4 and opens up the world as we (subconsciously) know it.

What is and isn't able to be spoken


Jenny Kemp
Thanks for such a beautiful intro. When Virginia asked me to respond to the idea of "Getting the Word Out", I thought of Freud's famous statement "The Return of the Repressed" and I thought about the way when something returns after being repressed for quite a long time, being submerged it can come back in strange forms and with strange distortions. In a way, as a writer, I feel like I work with this energy on two levels, one as a kind of fuel for my writing (this energy that comes back up) and the other as for me a sort of focus for the conceptual work of the writing. In a way I sort of feel that as human beings we're negotiating that raw energy and the way society moulds and structures and sometimes represses that energy. And at that place there's a really interesting dynamic. Probably as a writer that's actually the dynamic that I dialogue with. And it'll be that dynamic that this talk is locating really.

In my plays–and I know that you probably haven't seen them in Sydney–the characters are engaged in negotiating this dynamic in various more or less everyday contexts. The plays themselves give focus to women's experience, not really that it excludes men, but it happens to be experience that is particular to women. So for instanceCall of the Wild (1989) was looking at a young mother in her domestic role and the way society and religion have repressed her in her role as a woman. Remember (1993) is about a woman who has been raped. I'm just citing these as the sort of "everyday" situations that I look at. Black Sequin Dress (1996) was about a housewife going out to a nightclub in a glamorous dress and slipping and falling on the nightclub floor. Still Angela is looking at a repressed memory of loss and the death of a mother. Basically, they're all negotiating something that has been pushed under. Perhaps sexuality, subjectivity, spontaneity, autonomy, grief, desire. And the plays themselves are looking at and attempting to give form to the way we psychically order and negotiate experience.

So coming back to "getting the word out", the writing that I'm interested in is both writing that can be spoken and writing that can't be spoken. So writing that, in a sense, gives voice to things that we don't give voice to and which I feel writing has the possibility of giving voice to. And the form that I'm trying to find with these works is a form through which an audience can perceive this kind of internal, silent, maybe seemingly unnoticed work and meditate on that and how it factors in our daily lives. That's the dynamic between what is and isn't able to be spoken.

So the kind of voices I'm attempting to tap there in the writing–I'll just try to name a few to locate this–would be something like an intimate voice, an uncensored voice, a censored voice, a repressed voice, a socially conditioned or constructed voice, an imaginary voice, and whatever this is–the voice of the unconscious.

The form is sometimes in monologue, sometimes in dialogue, sometimes one person's own dialogues (talking to the self) and sometimes just writing of action only when speaking can't happen or when a number of characters are existing at the same time in the space and one is speaking and the other represents another aspect of that character. So given we're dealing with the writing itself, I just want to talk quickly about the way it happens, how it's triggered for me.

How the writing happens


Quite often a starting point is an image that won't go away, that sits with me. Or an action. An example of that might be something like an image that keeps recurring for me of a woman lying on a kitchen floor or an action of a woman slipping and falling because it's such an incongruous thing for someone to do when you're grown up and adult–you don't fall over, especially when you're all dressed up. And with Still Angela, it was the image of a woman just sitting on a chair–the action of stopping and the image of sitting on a chair and staying there and not getting up. That one particularly fascinated me too because it was so clearly non-dramatic. How was I going to find anything dramatic in it? Interestingly, the longer she sat still, the more internally active she became. So they're just examples of things that just start to be there and from which the writing comes or is generated, by meditating on those.

Structuring the writing


Now I just want to talk a little bit about the process of structuring this writing for me, just some practical components: the process of imagining; imagining a place where this writing can be located, where the text can be spoken. For me it's a landscape where inner and outer worlds can coexist. I often work with visual stimuli just to help me see a place. And the creation of a visual storyboard. The process of visualising. That's another thing I do. So there's the writing, the imagining and the drawing of a storyboard, sketching the mise-en-scene, drawing the action. In a sense, my process of work shifts between these tasks. So when I'm really jammed with writing, I can move to imagining which involves conceptual work as well, like imagining into the concept. And in a way I find it liberating to move between these things–from action to visuals to the writing to the conceptual work. They're mutually catalytic as tasks.

So then deciding on the order things go is one of the major difficulties at a dramaturgical level. And so I just want to mention that the other side of it is the conceptual structuring of the work and that's a part of the imagining and in locating a form for my work at a conceptual level I've done a lot of thinking about time. So I suppose that for me time and time and space are a conceptual base. I feel that that side of the work is really important and it helps, in a sense, to guide the writing too.

Opening out time and space


So I'm going to talk a little bit about my concept mainly because I'm trying to talk about a process. So I want to talk about the concept so I'm talking about the way I work and hopefully that's of interest that I put this energy into the concept in this way. So just to say that the reason time is interesting to me is because I've always felt that the way that time is organised in our society is repressive and has resulted in a shutting down of space, both on the inside and on the outside of ourselves. So this is a space I want to open up in my performance work. There's this illusion propagated that we don't have any time, that we're sort of running out of time. We're always saying, I'm running late or there's this feeling that there's no time. I think this is really interesting. I think this process of believing that we don't have any time or that certain things are a waste of time actually starts when we're children. It starts in school when you're not allowed to daydream or look out the window. There are actually certain things we don't have time for, we're told. And they're the things, the seemingly too slow things, the waste-of-time activities I call them that I'm interested in giving focus to because I actually think they're very productive. And so an example of these activities would be like fantasising or imagining or daydreaming, remembering, thinking slowly, waiting (Iraq), incubating, meditating, taking a long time to think about or discuss something. So I'm interested in focusing on ways of prising open a notion of time and re-inserting or integrating these other functions into the daily rhythm of our life. So that's what I'm trying to do with the work.

So to find a form for this, I organise the performance narrative around two grids and I'll call one a horizontal grid and the other vertical grid. So this is now with my storyboarding and how I'm trying to factor what goes after what. How do I find the rhythm of the performance. So I've got these two grids and one's moving forward in time like this, like a linear narrative structure, a causal concept of time. A causes B causes C. Like a classical narrative structure in a sense. Like the way the everyday world is organised. So I've got that there because that is there. That's the forward moving one. Then there's another grid, the vertical structure where the movement is downwards, sometimes backwards. This is where time is no longer a factor. Time stops. It's like timelessness or eternity. Aboriginal people have a concept called "the eternal now" in which the past goes on existing in the present. Dream states, unconscious states, meditative states, states based on extreme emotion when your sense of time dissolves. So between the everyday world of social time and the imaginary or inner worlds is a dynamic, a kind of, a thing that we're negotiating. And I call it a kind of experiential narrative. And that's what I try and build. And in a sense it actually both gives to an audience and resists an audience's expectation. In a sense there is a desire for the story which is very understandable. What's going to happen? Then there's the interruption. And there's a tension between those two things that I think performance, for me anyway, negotiates. And I've got to get that balance right.

So, it sort of brings up the formal question this vertical time, about simultaneity and multiplicity. If time stops, everything exists. The past goes on existing, your future exists there too, and the present. So everything's existing in that moment. There's an interesting Chinese concept of time called "field-thinking" and in a sense that's more like instead of having your events organised like a, b, c, d–causal sense of time–there's a cluster. So all of those events cluster around a key or pivotal moment in time. And that moment in time, in a sense, is what matters–that one event. And all those things exist around it. And both inner and outer facts are taken into consideration. It's almost like what we understand of as Gestalt, I suppose. So a story is about all those elements. And in a way the linear sequence doesn't matter so much. It's what coexists. What's pertinent there is the perception of patterns or rhythms, sort of reading meaning through association, disjunction and juxtaposition. Sort of finding the poetic order perhaps. So image and space and action have equal status here with the word. Signs and actions, whatever's happening, all have equal status with the word. That's where I'll finish up. In this dramatic situation, this performance, all of those things, the inner and the outer, the word and the action in the space are all read, all create the meaning.

So to sum up, I've been talking about the way I've conceptually understood I suppose, an offer up from myself. Writing has come out of me that I've had to understand. Then I've had to structurally organise it and create a form for it. That's because I've worked like that from these images, from these actions that are there for me which is just a particular way of working, starting that way and in a sense, working it out as you go along.

Virginia
So now time opens up for us which we can approach either horizontally or vertically. We can ask questions that relate directly to what Jenny's had to say or we can delve down into the deep. Somebody might like to spontaneously erupt in a whirr of words in response to that.

Clare
Or venture a gently query or observation.

The status of written words


Nikki Heywood
Something is puzzling me at the moment, to do with the status of the written word. And having just come out of a process in which we've sort of been working towards making a written text, even though the evolution of the work began as a physical exploration of the concept. What I've noticed–and this has happened over a number of processes I've been involved in over the last 2 years in particular–somehow I'm finding myself with words in front of me in a rehearsal space. And what I find happens with performers is that once they have this text in front of them, that space that you're talking about, where the signs and the actions and the silence and the movement and gesture within the silence, becomes much harder to find. It takes a whole new negotiation to get back to that pre-verbal place of finding meaning once I'm sitting there with a text in front of me. I'm curious to know how you negotiate that when you're working with performers and trying to find that vertical dynamic.

Jenny Kemp
It's interesting. I've been working with a choreographer (Helen Herbertson) quite a lot and with dance. And after I did Black Sequin Dress where we were trying to negotiate those 2 worlds, we analysed what had happened. And we got to a certain point with that piece where the choreographer and I were starting to get really interested in the world that was happening physically out there and the actors were getting more and more anxious because we were holding off on text. So you could either do the text in a whole separate block, but in a way the text has to come out of the world they're in. So we started to bring the text in and we'd sort of prised open time quite a lot to have kept it off-text for that long. So there was, in a sense, quite a strong physical world built but I still thought we didn't go far enough.

I asked Helen, what is the solution here? And she said, "You need as long on the physical work as you need on the verbal work." And you know how long text needs for rehearsal. Actors need a long time on text so that they can eat the text. And know it completely. The physical has to be known at that level too. And I think rehearsals need to be twice as long. That's the only answer I can find.

The other thing is that seems really important to me is that actors understand that there are internal actions as well as external ones. And that some of these locations that I've been talking about are actually about the internal work and the way that is spoken of and the place it's spoken from is actually a very different place. That's why for me, building the world that the words can exist in–and by that I mean that it's got to have an everyday element but it's got to be something other as well because we're speaking things that can't be spoken as well as things that can. The things that get spoken or not even "spoken" inside oneself. And I think it just takes a long time. And I mean things like an action, like orientating or remembering, or sifting or sorting or something like that. It's money. More money.

Nikki Heywood
I'm interested in the mechanics of it, whether you come to your performers with text that you've written or whether you come to them with the concept and what you know of the word and then let the text travel in sideways. Or whether you say OK this is the starting point. These words are eventually going to be said by you or you and we create the world out of that.

Jenny Kemp
Well, I don't create the world out of words. I don't start with the words because an actor will go straight to words. I kind of feel like I have to start with a situation like, I don't know, a path, a chair, a sense of place, a landscape that they're existing in. And they find out how to exist there. And then we might locate the desire to speak or to reach out to another. There might be 4 people who are the same character (as in Still Angela) so the sense of communication or dynamic inside the person occurs.

Nikki Heywood
And then when they're reaching out for the words, how do they slide in?

Jenny Kemp
If someone's been in the space for a long time...I work on states of being and things like that, emotional states, and you're looking at someone. I have the text there and, at certain moments, you can see an actor is ready to speak They're in a place in which they could speak. And sometimes it's very "dropped." It's a very deep state. You can just hand them the text. They might not know that's the moment to speak but if you give them some text at that moment...So they haven't worked to speak. But they're probably doing work on that text at a technical ...at some level, somewhere else.

Images cause writing


Su Goldfish
Could you talk about the images in the same way you've just talked about text in terms of whether the images are perhaps something that inspire you before you enter the room, the things that you bring or that you offer to the performers.

Jenny Kemp
OK. I think the images probably or a sense of an action cause the writing in some way. Or I do some writing and identify an image or an action inside them that's a key conceptual nitty gritty something. Then out of those images, like the woman falling, I would start to understand a sense of place or 2 places in one place. I would go well, a shiny floor, could be a kitchen lino floor, could be a shiny nightclub floor, could be the same thing in the same place. In a sense, that place has come from the image and it starts building with the dreaming of it. What else could be there? A nightclub is also an underworld. So when she falls she's falling into an underworld. So then you've also got the underworld and just gradually understanding what exists there, what coexists there, what is juxtaposed? So with Still Angela, she's sitting on a chair in a kitchen and she's remembering things. But there's also the past kitchen from her childhood and also the memory of a desert. And because of the state she's in, in a sense, being in the kitchen is like being in the desert. So the kitchen disappears and becomes the desert. So they're things that flesh out the image and start to create the sense of place and what actions can exist in there.

Finding a way back


Victoria Spence
I was really "in" what you were saying. Something I was thinking about as I was listening to you because I was thinking I'm going to speak at some point and what am I going to say? I'm just going to talk specifically about a little piece that I'm developing after, you know, a long way of finding my way back to my own generative practice after, I don't know what I've been doing for 10 years, but something. I realised that I wanted to work with what I already have and that in fact I had all I needed so that I was walking out of a sense of constraint luckily just brought about by having a child. So my world sort of got smaller and that vertical thing you talk about I would call depth time where I just went into this place. So I really struggled for years to write, like to get it out and I really was not very successful at getting the words out until I realised that actually for me, writing is speaking and that that's how it happens for me. And it comes easily and that I've always talked to myself and I became unashamed of that you know 5 or 6 years ago and really took on that that's how my words come out. So it was about looking for the ways that they seeped out and it wasn't through the pen or the computer and onto the page. Once I understood that that was how I wrote I then started to feel incredibly comfortable and supported by the fact I really knew what I was going to say and I just had to actually stop looking for it and start to see it. And so therefore words for me became about proximity and relationships. I think it was a conceptual shift from thinking that the good things in me were going to be prised out of some rock somewhere but in fact they were close and simple and comfortable and that in my silences there were lots. So words have always informed everything that I've done.

Jenny Kemp
What I get from what you're saying, which I really like, is that you're talking about perceiving from your own creative work what is presenting, like, what is it that is there. What is happening? And I think that is really key. That there is this thing, an idea about how things should be or even how we should be ourselves as artists. What is desire from the outside world? And then there's what is actually happening and what is there. If you cast it down like pick-up sticks and looked. There's actually something to be perceived there. There's probably a pattern, a form, a concept. But it's about perceiving it. That is so key that we really can't see what is there. And it's very simple sometimes. We're looking for something really complicated and it's right there.

Nikki Heywood
Isn't that about having the time to sit long enough to set and get simple?

Victoria Spence
Or even, conversely in my experience, it was not having the time. I didn't have any time to think. I had this deadline. I was doing a residency and someone said give me some images, write me something about what the work is about. And I just had to go with what was right there and it has become an informing principle now. It's incredibly comforting to think that it's all there and I just have to find the way...

Jenny Kemp
So it's your spontaneity and intuition that you're just going with.

Fiona Winning
But sometimes surely it's about having a collaborator who helps you see what's already there.

Victoria Spence
That all comes. It's not like you can do it all on your own.

Word block


Morgan Lewis
I think it's interesting what you say about text not being written. Coming to this myself I was so aware of the way I think of text for performance. Well it's more like as performers you generate text which then becomes your script which is a whole lot of post-it notes which you then maybe later have to write into a script and go, gee what did I say every night? But you've been saying pretty much the same thing in the show every night. So it's scripted, so it's a text, it has authority. But it just hasn't come from the page.

And thinking about what you were saying, Nikki. Working with performers on stage, often when they're given text on a page or even if it's their own text initially on a page, it can almost imprison them. As a director, when you're sitting outside, you can see how it has this effect–the dead European men or sense of authority. Once that's gone, I often find you can find that spirit. Maybe it's only a video camera that can capture it.

Jenny Kemp
Interestingly, when you've got a text which is a written text with that sense of authority, I find even from my work as a director of plays–and I do this with my own work–if you separate it out, if the actor actually takes one line, only one line and then you take only one word out of the one line, and you start working like that, you can break down that sense of authority and dive in and get playful with it. That's very interesting. It gets rid of the slab, this great big thing.

Morgan Lewis
The dirge.

David Williams
Clare mentioned the variety of stimulants we use in Version 1.0. Putting external stimuli on your writing that force you to be "re-present" in the representing of the work. For instance, in drinking a lot of alcohol during a performance, you still do the same text, but it's a struggle to make that text come out. And so in the struggle, it's no longer a slab. It's a performance just getting through the text.

Stephen Klinder
The text is a structure to swing off. You get to that point where you might actually let go, but you have to get to that point first. And giving yourself permission. Sometimes as a performer, you don't get that permission when you're working in that formal structure with a director who's saying, this is the text and there's no silence there. You get into that Nazi-like situation which I think damages you when you go into rehearsal again for the next piece and you have to remind yourself that you can take the time and explore.

Jenny Kemp
Isn't the challenge with the text as a given the challenge, of course, with the performer that they come to a place in performance of that kind of release and spontaneity and depth in relation to their text where they feel like that, that they're not trapped by it? That's what one's supposed to get to, isn't it?

Stephen Klinder
If the obstacle is well, I don't agree with this, then that's probably the best place you can be at to really dive in, to find out how to agree, how to feel that, to have a contrary relationship with what you're saying.

Clare Grant
How do words come in Version 1.0?

Stephen Klinder
We never like each other's stuff.

David Williams
Stephen works out psychological relationships for the entire piece, for everybody and no-one else agrees with him. So Stephen's worked out why we do everything we do. Chris Ryan knows why everyone does what they do. I've worked out why everyone does what they do. Now Nikki and Vicki are starting to work out why everyone does what they do. But no-one agrees.

Stephen Klinder
We try to find agreement within the performance.

David Williams
Well we do the same things in the same order but the things that inform the doing for each of us are different.

Word layers, words embodi
ed

Vicki Spence
This is where the whole concept of words and text opens up to incorporate silence. I have always loved words and I always thought it ironic in contemporary performance that we didn't think we made work with words when all we do in rehearsal is sit round for hours and talk about the work. And what interests me is all the words that are there... Jenny, you talked about it as conceptual clarity or something like that. There are words that end up getting spoken in a piece but they're like the top layer of words. And then there's all these other words that are....we sat round for 3 hours and talked about the development of this new work today and none of those words that we said today will end up in the piece but they're already forming the layer on which other words will come and they're gonna inform everything of what we bring into the performance space. They're totally in your body. I often find my physical material in this little solo thing I'm doing, through talking. I'll go into a studio and just talk and I'll see what my body does and from that I'll go there. So in the performance, I might not be speaking out but I'm totally in the story, totally in my words and what my body is doing.

Brian Fuata
I don't see the absence of words equals silence. The physicality of your body continues that dialogue. I find text and the human body quite intrinsic to each other and that's a whole part of my practice in terms of the way I write. The way that I write is the way that I move.

Clare Grant
How do you mean?

Brian Fuata
It's quite an idiosyncratic but simple process where I... It's such a free-form way of writing text. They're so intrinsic to each other. The physicality of my body and the way that I write are interconnected. I perform a lot of what I write, so it's actually for me.

Victoria Spence
Do you write sitting down at a table? Do you talk to yourself? How do you come across your words?

Brian Fuata
I write with an image of my body in the performing space. So I go, this word will entail the configuration of my body in this position. It's a holistic approach to writing. I actually don't give the word more weight than the way that my body will move.

Jenny Kemp
That's interesting. The choreographers that I've worked with who write and those who've done my writing workshops, I notice, write with a great knowledge of physicality. There's a lot of physical kinaesthetic things in their writing. What they often do is they take the writing and they read the images in the writing and take them onto the floor and use them to generate physical work.

Brian Fuata
Exactly.

Jenny Kemp
It results in great specificity in the work when the performer is filled with all this imagining that's coming from the writing and the images. So all that speaking is actually causing the detail.

Buried words


Virginia Baxter
Julie-Anne, does the connection for you between words and movement relate to words about your own body or are the words from somewhere else?

Julie-Anne Long
I think they come from somewhere else. There are lots of approaches I've tried to using words and I think I did have a spate of years where I would chat a lot–carefully rehearsed chatting of course (thanks to you, Virginia). Now I'm going through a phase where I'm deliberately not talking because I can't find the voice for this work that I'm doing at the moment–the "voice" voice. But also because I've made a conscious decision to go back to the mute dancer, I suppose. One thing that I do still like to do and I've done it for quite a few years and it's kind of one of those things that I just enjoy doing it and I keep going back to it. It's a tiny little kind of exercise and it's to make movement in very literal connection to the words and then take it away from its initial source, take it away and put it in another context and it becomes something else. And I've actually prepared a little number, a little demonstration of that idea. The piece is called Words and it might be a bit difficult to remember it because I've only just made it up. And what I'm going to do is after this little demonstration number, I'm working on a piece for January, I'm going to (because I like recycling) use the movement material in quite a different way so it will become useful to me in another context. I'll just see if I can get through this.

SHE PERFORMS A SET OF SOMETIMES ILLUSTRATIVE SOMETIMES MORE UNIVERSAL GESTURES TO A SONG.

(Smile an everlasting words/ A smile can bring you near to me/ Don't ever let me find you down/ Cause that would bring a tear to me/ This world has lost its glory/ Let's start a brand new story now, my love etc)

WILD APPLAUSE

Virginia Baxter
I remember being shocked when we were working together by a moment where you'd been doing these movements to the particular piece wearing a beard. They were deeply mysterious movements to me. I thought they were intrinsically connected to the psychology of the work until I found out they were the gestures to the song "Walk on By."

Jenny Kemp
So in the performance, we won't hear the song, you'll just do it?

Julie-Anne Long
Yes. And it kind of becomes something else. It's going to be a kind of Mommie Dearest type character but I'll be able to use that material and turn it into something else.

Clare Grant
I don't know how it quite ties in with this discussion but I suppose in the sense of gesture and the impossibility of words I don't know how I would describe that look in Julie-Anne's eye, the smile as she performed that piece. How could you write that?

Jenny Kemp
Julie-Anne, are you talking in a way about disjunctions? So in a way there's something going on and something else.. the way things look aren't the way they are. That there's this kind of odd double...?

Julie-Anne Long
The original intention is quite literal and then depending on the context it reappears in, hopefully it will cut through that and I'll discover it means something totally different. So I won't go into it necessarily knowing what it is it's going to say or mean.

Jenny Kemp
So it's about going from the literal to the complex? The complex paradoxical layering instead of ....?

Julie-Anne Long
That's good. (LAUGHS)

Jenny Kemp
I'm just thinking whatever context you take it to, it will be heightened and the other thing will be heightened.

Julie-Anne Long
Well, depending on what I do with the movement material, I might break it up quite a lot and it might be that there's only two things from that whole set of movements I've just performed that actually mean something to keep working with. I think for me the interest is that it's actually what's in the shadow that's interesting, not what we can see in the light.

Morgan Lewis
And is it also a quick way of generating some language?

Julie-Anne Long
Yes, that's right. Because I'm not a choreographer. Even though I fraudulently call myself one from time to time. (LAUGHS) I can't for the life of me get interested in making new movement. I just can't go there.

Jenny Kemp
But there is something that caused the words in the song. It's interesting what you're doing because it's like you're translating the words into something so that's a kind of interesting layering, like trying to go back to an origin or....because something always causes the words.

Victoria Spence
So when you take this from here, how much of the source of the movements, ie this song and the relationship between the lyrics and the gestures, how much of the source do you take with you? Do you just take the movement or is there still a thread of it.

Julie-Anne Long
What I found when I made that little gesture-phrase is that because I already knew what it was going to be used for as a starting point, that informed some of my choices.

Victoria Spence
You mean for the performance for this forum? Or did you make it for the piece you're working on?

Julie-Anne Long
Well I made it for this performance tonight but once I thought, oh I can use some of this movement material for the piece I'm working on, then I made certain choices about what I would do because I was already projecting how I would use them.

Fiona Winning
You said this is an exercise you like to do. So do you find yourself doing that when you make a work? Jenny used a phrase before–"mutually catalytic" Do you maybe choose a number of songs or sets of words that you might make work to and then just piece together from those?

Julie Anne Long
I think for the next piece I might do that. Because I'm also going to work with a ten-year old girl and she responds quite well to the idea of connecting words with movement. She likes that. So I think I'll go with that.

Body of sound


Clare Grant
Thinking of the many whirls and swirls in the process Julie-Anne's talking about took me to you Gail, I don't know if that makes any sense to you?

Gail Priest
I suppose I kind of gave up on my performative body a while ago for I don't know what reason. I just started writing myself out of my pieces. And it was an interesting catalyst of the time which was the early 90s when this crisis (occurred), when the word got buried and suddenly you weren't really allowed to talk in person on stage for a while. That's when I was coming into this contemporary performance scene. And it was when drag hit and all these kinds of things. I was finding it increasingly difficult to put myself on stage with a naked voice and be able to talk about the things I wanted to talk about. So somewhere through many progressions, i became interested in the recorded voice and that led to my becoming more of a sound designer for performance and using sound as my basis of creation which is sometimes performatively based and sometimes purely an aural experience which, of course, involves performative elements in its creation.

So that's taken several forms. In one, I've used other people's text, like Brian Fuata's and Caitlin Newton-Broad's (Song to Sing Angelic To) together with my own to create radio works. Recently I've done an installation piece (Sonic Salon) in this space. These are text-based pieces. And what I'm doing with those, whether it's using my own material or someone else's, there's the body of the text that is there but the way that works aurally is what I'm concentrating on. And it's one of those intuitive, unexplained processes. I'll record voices and I actually re-edit the content of things aurally. So it doesn't matter how they've been written down in the first place, when you start hearing what things sound like, all of a sudden, different connections are coming out. Because you get the benefit in recording of multi-tracking vocals and those kinds of things, you can open up whole layers of meaning that you can't do as a solo live body in space. And often that's responding to a sound source as well that I've developed, like either a composed music sound source which works with the text or against the text and they begin to meld together. So that's the point I wanted to make about writing. I'm a terrible text editor on the page. I can't do it at all. I don't understand what you should cut out. It's a mystery. But as soon as I start physically...it's quite a physical process when you start working with recorded sound. You're picking up that bit and putting it there, and you accidentally slip and drop it there and you play it and you've got this beautiful overlap.

Something else I wanted to say about responding to music is that the other mode that I've begun to work with as an improvising sound artist is this thing I call Watching Me Type which actually started because there's a big improvisation scene in Sydney and with sound, I felt I was faking it to do it with purely computer-based sound stuff. There was too much that was pre-recorded within that. I mean it doesn't bother other people and that's fine and it doesn't bother me as much now either. But at the time, I felt like a charlatan saying I was improvising. And I thought well, what is it that I actually do that I really improvise with. And it was automatic writing. As a cathartic act, I've always done a lot of automatic writing. And had been doing a lot of improvisation with Andrew Morrish which no-one ever needs to see (LAUGHS), I'd just been doing it. But I'd developed a kind of confidence about what came out of my brain when I forced it to perform. I almost had more confidence in performing under those conditions than if I sat down for a long time...So I have this mode of Watch Me Type which I still want to be an audible thing. So you don't actually see the words I'm typing which would make it a lot easier to understand at this stage because I'm using Simpletext voices but I automatic-write for you while I'm still mixing my music at the same time. So I'm responding...I could get into some very narcissistic feedback loop I daresay, responding to my own music improvisation as well. And I'm really interested in that form of writing as a performative act as well. It's saying here is what's in my brain and, god, what is that?

Clare Grant
See any connections there, Morgan?

Rapping the words out


Morgan Lewis
I've been seeing segues through this whole thing. It's been really nice. Last night I was in a hip-hop gig in Melbourne where I had a terrible migraine and couldn't perform. I had to vomit in the street which put me into a delirious state in which to absorb Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. And 250 people in the room all obsessed with hearing people rhyme, speak, talk. You know words are weapons, words are swords, words are for warriors, female or male. There was a female and male battling each other up on stage last night down in Melbourne. And I flew here on a plane listening to Curse ov Dialect, a crazy hip hop group, Macedonian MC called Borche Makedonski yelling in my ear from my CD player which had sign language printed all over the disc as I flew over a territory of a world which is covered by an initiated text of how we pillage and rape every landscape that we stand upon. I see the scars which we leave upon every place when I travel. In the little way between the stars and the earth when I surf around the whole world. Sort of like little satellites in the middle of the day or night. But then I travelled up here earlier this afternoon and there was a little dog that was MC-ing with an ambulance on Cleveland Street. And his owner was probably an alcoholic who probably couldn't quite get with it. But the dog was goin off! And I travel in here and there's a lotta MCs and poets and dancers and creators and it's sort of like the dance and inter-relation of words in the texts that we create and the patterns that are pillaged and created upon this place, Performance Space with so much history written all around, graffiti all across the back doors. That's another form of text, of course. I see Vicki Spence with words across her chest. Stencil writing–that's really cool on baseball caps and that's how I react. See what I mean? You won't get that when you read it in your RealTime later.

Keith Gallasch
We'll have to start streaming.

Morgan Lewis
That's it. You see we're all MP3's and we're all just dreams. It all comes back to haunt you. It's sort of like karma, you know. One thing that relates to composed texts in theatre world. where we have a lot of dead European fellas (is that) in hip hop we have a lot of live African-American fellas, and there's a lot of slang in hip hop. It's about slang and how you create yourself. I think for me text is a lot about definition of yourself. For myself as an MC and with the communities that I work with, text is for them the ultimate source of pride. It's the statement of definition. I think for a lot of people in this room who do community work, that's a lot of what we do. We create our own texts. That's why I've always wanted to do performance, whatever it is, hip hop or plays (A GLASS BREAKS IN THE ROOM) smashing glasses, spontaneous crashing whatever it may be. For me it's about creating our own texts. Of course within any form, you've gotta know the history, where it comes from. Sure African Bambaata is DJ-ing Big Day Out but I've seen him DJ in New York and he's a whacked DJ. And you don't know what I'm talkin' about. See, it's just the history, another lineage. You gotta know it so you can go in and fuck around and do it. You know? So you go in, muck around with whatever text it might be. Another thing I was bouncing was that thing about directing.

I just directed a spoken word show And that was a great example of poets who had to get something together really quickly. And it stunned me and this woman Kristen who's a slam poet who came out to work with these, with these 6 young poets from around Australia. And only two of them had memorised pieces at the beginning of the project. I thought, my god, you're poets and only two of you have memorised pieces. And there were 6 of them In a week they wrote pretty much the whole show and memorised it. In another week, we rehearsed it and theatricalised it. And that was a good amount of time. You had to go on gut instinct. You had to go forward. Make decisions. Everyone. And I think everyone has been involved in projects where you do creative development and you whack a show together at the end and it's excellent or it makes sense. Then you come back to do it and you get right into it and it doesn't make any fuckin' sense at all. You've gone too far into it. I think there's beauty in the freshness of text sometimes, of any text. Talking as an MC, I've just put out a new album. My first album took me two and a half years to get out. By the time it came out, I hated it. But my new one has just come out and I was touring and I had to learn all my raps 'cause I had to perform them, 'cause the CD was out and in the stores and I don't know my fuckin' words.

I was talking to a guy who's composing a series of hip hop songs for a chamber orchestra down in Melbourne. And he said, more and more I feel like an actor when I do hip hop. Hip hop feels to me like theatre. I have to learn my lines. I have to say them with conviction.

Clare Grant
And know my motivation?

Nikki Heywood
Doesn't that defeat the entire rationale of freestyling, being up there on the word right now speaking it as it comes. To learn it and regurgitate it seems...

Morgan Lewis
I regurgitated last night! In hip hop you have two forms of rhymes, written and freestyle. He was talking about his written stuff. They're two different things. You've gotta have both.

Victoria Spence
You can do freestyle within a written. You can open up a space where you go off and then just come back.

Morgan Lewis
All the time. Like I was thinking about this one:

Writing two new lines
that would never see the light of day,
How could anyone have the time
to build 'em all a house so they had somewhere to stay?
You know what I'm sayin'?
These are babies that I'm sprayin'
From my mind to the paper to the pen
and back again|
when I inhale
Inspiration.
Creation of this vocation
MC
Manufacturing Children in a dangerous world
Where children are hurled
via satellite
in the middle of the night
And that's where I forget the rhythm and turn it into freestyle,
But that's all right.
See, so it's the inter-relation of the two.

APPLAUSE

Disposable words, blocks of action


Virginia Baxter
Alicia, do you see some connections between the writing that you do to do with freestyling and memorised?

Alicia Talbot
I see some unspoken connections. What exactly do you mean?

Virginia Baxter
Well, you've talked about your writing with Urban Theatre Projects as taking experience or stories from people in communities, translating them into actions which are then taken on by the performers who tend to be some of the same people who are telling the stories who then create a kind of improvised speech from these actions and then perform the semi-improvised text which they've memorised throughout the rehearsal process in a way but not quite. How's that?

Alicia Talbot
Very good. You asked me about getting the word out and I came back with the ways you write a performance. And you said, well it is about the word. And it's about trying to actually think about the place the word occupies. And it was really interesting to hear Jenny speak. And I think it's about that place where an image comes and something has to come in response and I was frustrated about how you get performers to be their fantastic selves and at the same time grapple with text. I find it really hard. I don't want to be a writer. I'm not even sure I want what is perceived to be a writer in the process. But I want to write with a team of people I'm making the new work with. I also desire, I guess, to be able to write that in its final form from the image that started the whole process. You were talking about work by elimination and I sort of feel the same with performance and actual written text in the sense that– I just have to get my thoughts together because they've collided with everybody else's ideas tonight and I feel like I have none of my own left, which is fantastic.

It came from the frustration of feeling like performance... I like to grapple with what's in front of you–aurally, spatially, physically, sensually. Performance is only existing in the act before you, what is being communicated with me as an audience member. In order to do that grappling, I can't engage in transposing a text from a piece of paper into that live action. What I'm most interested in is the live action engagement. And so the role of text within that to me is disposable but so vital because we put so much (importance) onto it. But text is the spoken and the unspoken. And quite often, the big communication comes within that gap, comes within the spoken and the unspoken co-existing alongside. And there is the emotional affect that is communicated to and on and for and within dialogue with the audience. So in devising performance work, in order to address short rehearsal times–'cause I didn't actually know how to devise a work and have that freshness and relationship with the audience and performers while relating to a written text– so there came this model which I'm still grappling with and trialing and wanting to experiment with and carry me through many of my days, which is how to actually make a work based on blocks of action. And a block of action is everything that in a breath you can take in. So that would be text and movement and feeling and sign and space–everything all at once. To try and fix a section of that action, makes it no longer active. So what I'm interested in with a team of performers is how you can make a work that swings from blocks of action or moments of action to action. I made Cement Garage and The Longest Night with Morgan and in Cement Garage with three very experienced performers who were able to, just through a process of improvisation and setting an improvisation and understanding in their conceptual...what I call "performance-making brain", asking what you are doing?... And if you understand as a performance-maker what you're doing, you can then hit the mark every time and it doesn't matter if someone's hanging upside down or so and so didn't say their lines or so-and-so in community performances isn't there that night!

And I hate to out them but in one show we had a father and daughter team and they would both come to me after the show for notes. And at one stage I said to the younger daughter, look really it doesn't matter what you're doing. Just follow your father. He's going to do something different every night. Give it up. Don't try and recall every night the same line or the same blocking or the same emotion because it's not gonna work. If an ensemble is truly mobile then they can swing in any formation and still hit the same emotional arc on the audience every night. And I think what that requires, rather than a long rehearsal time even is a well practised ensemble. And it's not improvisation in terms of the Big Improvisation scene, in terms of the way people are moving at the moment where it is spontaneous and the craft is the improvisation itself. It's something very different. It's very well considered. It's strongly crafted. But it's a hard groove to sit in.

And when we made the second work, The Longest Night in Adelaide we were grappling with about a hundred more community members than we were in Western Sydney. And also we had an inexperienced member of the team who found it really hard to re-create the improvised block of action. So the team in this crazy week before we opened set the text and as a director it was a nightmare. In terms of wanting to truly engage in this blocks-of-action swinging, it was a disaster and I saw the death of the text, the show, everything within the "you say this bit and then I'll say this bit and I'll be standing here at the time." It was that struggle of needing to go to performers and say "look, we need to do this so you can feel good" but at the same time knowing that if perhaps that one person had had the five to ten, fifteen years experience that the other people around the table had had, then we wouldn't need to do that because everybody could multi-task. And it's that truly mobile action that a group can undertake that is coordinated and directed and exact.

I mean Morgan does have a tremendous ability to be able to re-create probably a 5 minute text with maybe a year's gap in between, not ever writing it down. Because of the rhythm and the pattern. But I would argue that many...maybe it's just me but I never write down my things either although as I'm getting older I find I have to write them post-event..But it's this truly remarkable ability for the entire body to engage in everything. And it comes from the work that you do about a body being in space. And it's the principles that we deal with in the workshop. The people that you work with themselves work in many different ways which is the kind of intersecting of the light and your body in space and where you are at. If you're intersected, then everybody here is on the grid. And everybody within a 5 kilometre radius is on the grid, including the audience. And it's almost as if that grid–and I'm sorry if I'm not making sense–moves around when you're working with a team of people who practice in the sense that half your day is spent understanding that grid and your role within it as a performer and as a performance-maker.

Then the afternoon is set 'cause you've discovered material and as the process moves on then you actually grapple with the task of how do we do this? And that is just the most exhilarating challenge. And for me as a practitioner, I believe that my answers are in that model or in the grappling with this block-of-action model. And it's indispensable in community processes. I would never ever try and ask people to set text because I find it completely unwieldy and I have nowhere to go. And in fact I just collaborated with Cicily Ponnor on a project (India@Oz) with the Indian community and we discussed this cultural imperative to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN SO IT CAN BE MARKED! So you would give people feedback on a scene that they had worked on and had been performing and very diligently they would go away and re-write the entire scene, completely and utterly because you'd given them a line of feedback. And for a person like me who is really only interested in this live engagement, not transposing this into the live but in the holistic..I would have to say to people, well you've brought me back the same problems. I can't help you with the written text. It may read OK for you but if you stand up and try to speak to me, then you're presenting me with just as many problems every time you write a new line. What I'm really interested in is you using that material (if that was helpful for you)...I've had many community participants say to me, "Hey, Alicia, when are we gonna get the script?" And I say,"I'm not writing a script! You wanna write a script, you write it." I'm really happy with what you're doing. And they do it as a means of their own comfort and in fact, if you'd said to that person 3 months before, you know you're going to be writing a script a week before you open and it's gonna be so hot. But if I had tried any other process other than the physical making and the physical engagement with them as performers and me as director or facilitator or producer or animateur in this live engagement and dialogue, I don't know how else to get that remarkable material. And it's not remarkable material about self-disclosure but it's remarkable material of the self.

Victoria Spence
So what do they come to you with?

Alicia Talbot
Resentment.

LAUGHTER

Victoria Spence
Do people come with stuff that they've written down or do you get them to talk in improvisations? How do you come across the words?

Alicia
You get them to make something in the physical space rather than sitting around and talking about it. You offer a provocation but a provocation that's not sterile. Once people go on stage, I don't stand back and wait till they're finished. I'm on the stage with them, in their ear, feeding this other voice, the nightmare. Because as the person outside it you can see all these moments–of dialogue, of tension and conflict that when you're in it as a performer you can't always sense or you miss or your partner misses because they're not having a sharp day and we don't have ensembles that train together every day for 3 hours in order to have the repertoire to draw on.

And for me the real skill is the practice of training which is why in a community process, it's a different event. But they will sit and you'll keep them going in a process for half an hour. And they'll create this amazing scene. And then the real discipline, even for community ensembles who might come once or twice a week, is to actually have them be able to sit down and go back through the improvisation again and talk about it.

My learning curve as a practitioner is also in those crowded processes when you're just trying to do so much and make really wild work, as a learning director, it's that you know, we've never really had the time to sit down and analyse those moments after improvisation. The Longest Night team would perform for an hour and then you'd be over-run by other demands, rather than taking 15 minutes to go right, what worked then, what sang between us–people feeding back on the interior experience and me feeding back on the exterior experience. And then us putting together a bit of material. It's the process of "Go again. Do that improvisation again." And then it not working. And inexperienced people going all over the shop. But then other people in this group dynamic even when they've had no experience at all being able to shape and pull people back in. And together the group finds its rhythm and the group begins to make all these intellectual decisions about where they are and where they're going and what they need to do. And the actors that exist as part of that group–not separate or on the side–are able to be that. I find it really wild. As a performer I think it's amazingly liberating and you can just chuck something that doesn't work. You're never stuck with something that doesn't work because you just re-write it. And this for me is the true engagement, the true struggle. I don't have the answers for the model but I'm committed to it and so excited by it as a process.

Clare
Cicily would you like to add anything to that or ... I'm really interested in your connection between Bollywood and suburbia and what that means for you in terms of working with communities.

Images and essences


Cicily Ponner
Well I agree with what Alicia was saying about the cultural imperative and working with the Indian community but my kind of writing always seems to be under that pressure of oh, my god I don't have any time. So I sit on the train and do my writing and usually I work with a collaborator and they say well, that works and that doesn't and then I edit it. Whatever I do I work with a concept. I like films, all kinds of films–Bollywood, film noir, all those kinds of things. So I start with a concept and think of it in images that come from (the form) and then I start writing it, usually as I said, under pressure. I constantly edit and I keep asking myself "What's the essence of this piece?" And sometimes I end up with maybe 3 pages and edit it to 5 lines and then I go, oh my god I don't have enough and I have to re-write it back again and I keep re-writing.

In terms of community and coming from the Indian community, I guess I'm always interested in challenging the idea of being Indian, challenging the whole Indian audience and I guess non-Indians too about particular concepts within that culture. I'm still learning my process. I'm very much a person who writes a lot of different things, in different styles using different images and then I just try to work with my collaborators to string it together. Things like Bollywood give me a structure. But I've written about 3 works in response to Bollywood and they're all very different. When you think of Bollywood you automatically think of singing and dancing but it's always been very different for me because it keeps coming back to me and my experiences at that time and also the collaborators I work with either from the community or working with people like Alicia and Deborah Pollard.

Clare
Bollywood is so filmic. What happens to that quality when you put it on bodies.

Cicily
I try to get that filmic quality in my writing. I try to make it big. Sometimes it's hard, you know trying to create all these dances and background noise and so on. I also like to work with video and so that helps support it. I'm not a very good dancer. I try to pretend I'm dancing.

Virginia
Top marks, Cicily, for being the only writer in the room who has said they love editing.

Rhythm and editing


Jenny Kemp
One thing that occurred to me listening to Gail and Alicia is about rhythm and editing. Gail was talking about editing aurally and Alicia you're talking about a spontaneous rhythmic place and also Morgan, you're talking about working from rhythm. It's really interesting that when people edit there is this sense that one can edit from entirely the wrong place. There is a meaning that comes out of rhythm and there's another kind of meaning. From my writing workshops (I've found that) there's often a sense of people wanting to cut out aberrant...or things that seem a bit strange in the work, that seem like they've got to go because they're not making sense. That makes another kind of sense. It makes aural and rhythmic sense and spontaneous sense. And there's something there about the performer. When the performer comes to actually speak the text, especially with things like radio microphones, and the ability to find a non-projected, non actorly type of delivery and voice, where people are speaking in a really different mode, from a different kind of place, where it's an intimate voice, another kind of voice that's more like this spontaneous place...it's interesting to think of performers themselves being able to actually perform from these places rather than from actorly zones

Alicia
Yeh. Yeh. Yeh. Yeh. Yeh.

Jenny Kemp
That they can come into and work with a really intimate voice or a voice that's drifting or that's....'cause I've heard quite a lot of, in a sense, the text is kind of like "law" or "the word" or this "authority" or this "impenetrable something" there. I think it's really interesting to think of the text as also being like these texts that you end up with, Gail or that Morgan's rap ends up with or just working orally Alicia can end up with. You can start with a text like that and approach it with the performers in a different kind of way so that one is actually more implicit about it or isn't sort of seeking an out in that Stanislavsky kind of mode.

Commandments


Stephen Klinder
David and I have drafted a spontaneous piece to explain how we work in Version 1.0.

David
OK, Well, here are some notes on writing which we wrote in response to Virginia's questions.

"In the beginning there was the word and then the word became flesh."

That's the beginning of the Book of John in the New Testament.

It's also usually the beginning of our work

Stephen
Thou shalt not kill

David
In the beginning there's always lots of words–stuff we've written, stuff we've found, stuff we know we want to do one day but just haven't found the time, random scribbling, etc etc.

Stephen
Thou shalt not steal/

David
Then we set something up.

Stephen
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife.

David
Something that barely makes sense to anyone. And then we throw some of that writing in.

Stephen
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour.

David
Slip it under the skin, into the flesh, in relationship to words that alternates between the throw-away line and being possessed...

Stephen
Thou shalt not covet in public or on the boss's desk

David
Getting carried away or thrown away. Shrugging it off or being infected by it.

Stephen
Thou shalt not covet on the escalators at David Jones

David
There's always lots of words around us. We talk a lot with each other and at each other.

Stephen
Shut up, David. You're talking shit.

David
We use big words, rude words, stupid words, contradictory words and words we don't understand and have to look up in the dictionary.

Stephen
Thou shalt look up the meaning of "covet"

David
We use these words to argue with each other, to convince one another that I am right and you are wrong. To explain why we are bothering to be here at all, to deceive ourselves that we really are on the right track and to convince other people that we really are artists and we really do have a vision.

Stephen
Thou shalt not worship false Eye Dolls (HE PRODUCES A BARBIE DOLL WITH AN EYEBALL FOR A HEAD)

David
A lot of these words are strategic or tactical and are deployed based on the demands of others outside the process especially funding bodies and publicists.

Stephen
hou shalt not speak too much.

David
The rest of these words depend largely on contingency, accident, improvisation, making do and making it up.

Stephen
Thou shalt not speak too little.

David
I wrote this because I drank a bottle of wine last night and had 2 coffees trying to wake up this morning. I wrote these words because these neurones make connections with each other in this moment linking together my random thoughts and the randomly sorted ideas raised by the collection of books, films and performances that I happened to see over the last fortnight.

Stephen
Thou shalt not look behind this door.

David
This can't be explained by reference to some deep, authentic voice that is somehow contained within me.

Stephen
Thou shalt be alert but not all armed.

David
To use Werner Eisenberg's notion of the electron, it is un-look-at-able. Either its material conditions or its trajectory can be known but not both at the same time.

Stephen
Thou shalt not. Not, not. Naughty boy!

David
An idea from Tim Etchells of Forced Entertainments: What I am at this moment is a collection of the writing that flows through me. I am a switching and feeding machine.

Stephen
Thou shalt not make too many rules

David
Not that I want to claim some mystical process, only that explanations are writings in themselves.

Stephen
Thou shalt not say "Thou shalt not" without trying it first.

David
Description gets the word out as much as the performance of the word does. It's just a different set of words for different audiences with very different affects and effects.

Stephen: Thou shalt always concede defeat after Chris Ryan has had his third bottle of red wine.

David
Laurie Anderson once talked about giving impromptu new music concerts for groups of customs agents and airport security forces while touring Europe during Gulf War 1

Stephen
Thou shalt not think of "Oh Superman"

David
Anyone caught carrying that much electronic equipment must be suspicious and through the paranoia of the state, the word got out to places that it had probably never been before.

Stephen
Thou shalt not relocate to California.

David
I heard once in a semi-drunken foyer conversation that for Open City the writing of the grant application was the performance. I can go along with that. Often for Version 1.0, the arguments are the performance. And they're always verbose.

Stephen
As Ken Campbell says, everything in the universe is connected by hyphens.

David
Even when they don't make sense.

Stephen
And a full stop is a hyphen coming straight at you.

David
I like Tim Etchell's approach to writing for performance: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Here are 26 letters, now write a performance–absolutely contingent but poetical nonetheless.

Virginia
A great spot to end. Thanks everyone. Please stay and have a drink.

END

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