So, I have now had two sessions with Stephan – not just me, of course, our group. Stephan does Site Specific work, which I thought I knew all about until yesterday. The only thing I did know was that Sleep No More is NOT site specific. I knew that so there.
Site Specific work is, essentially, work that is entirely inspired by a specific site. No decisions are made prior to finding a site for your work. That is how I finally understand it, anyway. He has done a ton of work, all over the world. It is so amazing to be here. I think so linearly, and I am trying to branch out. In hearing Stephan speak about what he does, I think of the way in which I work and I am very excited for the opportunity to branch out. It is easier, in this setting, to think a little outside the box. I have already proposed two pieces that are completely unlike me. Again, yesterday was several hours of “Why are you here? What do you want to get?” which is good to hear. When we finally got down to work, he sent us all out into Spoleto with very specific exercises for the beginnings of our site specific work. I won’t bother with all of the details, mostly because it is part of his curriculum and I haven’t asked him if I can share it, but I will share other things.
First of all, I found the observation part of this exercise very easy. It should be. As an actor/director, I am, essentially, a professional observer. What was difficult was the end result “conceive of a scene to take place in a specific part of your Piazza.” As I sat in my Piazza, there were already much better scenes unfolding than I could have ever written, and today I expressed this to Stephan. I told him that I had not written a scene as I was unsure of what to write and I did not want to steal an entire scene. Stephan told me (you can learn something every day, can’t you?), he told me that as soon as I take that scene I see and I put it on the page, it is now a part of my performance and my fiction and that we always borrow from life. As we drove to Spoleto this morning I began to think about my scene and finally had arrived at an acceptable conclusion by the time we were there. My mini scene:
an old man stands in the middle of the square
he stands in the shadow of a large balloon, swaying the in the wind, but very careful to keep IN the shadow, but on the edge
After a minute of seeing him “dance,” that is, try to stay in the specific shadow, we begin to hear a rhythmic click
A young woman leans against a wall, making a click with her keys
the old man is joined then by other people form the square, all trying to stay to the perimeter of the shadow
It makes more sense if you know the context. Anyway, I quite like it.
Yesterday we also had more of Neil and Marco. Marco and I share a love of the Sarah Kane kind of art.
We heard more scenes from people, and then Neil and Marco presented their directed scenes of Neil’s short play. The two takes were very interesting. It was odd, critiquing well known directors and authors, but they both took it in stride. Everyone here is just here to learn and so the generosity is abundant. Anyway, once we had dissected it, a few of us (not me) got up and had 15 minutes to redirect the scene. The different takes on it were totally fascinating. Today we work on Marco’s piece!
The sun here is hot, but the experience is worth the intense heat.