Monday, 30 May 2011

Quote of the Week - Ma

"Good things happen when you meet strangers."

-Yo Yo Ma

Essential Yo-Yo MaSo true!  And from such a wonderful source!

Yes - I'm a million miles behind in blogging.  I don't even promise to get better anytime soon.  But you never know.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Quote of the Week - Bronte

Let your performance do the thinking.
- Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

This is the thing, really.  Where all the brilliance comes from when it comes.   That place where you let it go and it holds onto you.

Wishing you a great week.

And I will will will get my POPse! blog finished!  I will!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Monday's Quote - Hicks

"It's just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one."

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Practivist of the Week - YOU! Helping BAZ Productions!

Wow – I was invited to a sneak peak of what BAZ Productions is doing.  I was compelled to attend by the fact that they were doing it in a crypt!  Yup.  Underground crypt at St. Andrew’s Church.  Macbeth.  What could be spookier?  Yum.

The night was inspiring. The performers were thoroughly engaging and the use of the space was miraculous. BAZ has stripped away identity from character, put spontaneity into a 400 year old text, and removed apathetic passivity from theatre-going. If the theatre is to live beyond live streaming video, then this is clearly the right direction to pursue, and it is being pursued passionately, courageously, and elegantly by BAZ.

In the tradition of Shared Experience and Theatre du Complicite, BAZ is working toward a unified whole in its productions by creating a company of performers who work and grow together.  Catherine Bailey,  Sarah Bedi, and Emma Luffingham are leading BAZ in a direction of fully collaborative training - creating a team of performers as refined and excellent as a professional athletics team.  To do this, they must create time and space for training, rehearsal, discovery and mastery.  

Surprise #1:  This takes money.  

Surprise #2:  Theatre companies are not funded by beer sponsors and television ad revenue like professional athletic teams.

Say the BAZ team (yes they even quote together!):

After the roaring success of our work in progress showings, our next goal is bigger and brighter than ever - a three week run of Macbeth at the incredible crypt at St Andrew, Holborn (scheduled for October).

The space, with its strange corridor of underground rooms, is the perfect venue for our team of actors to pick up the story of Macbeth and wrestle with the telling of it.

We are already in training for the big event (as all our work is inspired by sporting matches, let's say this is our championship final!) and will be lying in wait for that audience who seeks something alive and limitless. Expect murder, music, mystery - and things bursting out of the walls.

BAZ has already reached almost half their fundraising goal, but they still need to raise 19,000 GBP by September in order to 
facilitate their 3-week run of Macbeth in the crypt.


If you don't like PayPal you can make cheques payable to: Baz Productions LLP and put them in the post:

Baz Productions LLP,
17 Ferris Road, London, SE22 9ND
LLP no: OC348492

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

New York - The Center of the Universe

Once upon a time, New York was the center of the universe.  It was all happening in Gotham.  Art, theatre, dance, high and low culture sparking each other everywhere.  Artists flooding abandoned buildings to create lofts and retune neighborhoods to their avant-garde key.  Like drugs, art became epidemic, saturating a time, a sensibility, a geography, and a generation.

No - this was not the 80's, 90's or 00's.  It was the outer edge of the Beatnik turned to Hippie culture - the latest of the 60's to the very small bud of the 70's.

Recently poet warrior goddess Patti Smith has been quoted as saying:
Just Kids

New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling. But there are other cities. Detroit. Poughkeepsie. New York City has been taken away from you. So my advice is: Find a new city.
Her comments are apt - but perhaps a generation or more behind.  NY has not truly been incubating art and artists since it became a non-stop cocaine and dance-fueled party for the famous, adjacent, and investment banking crew.  The Club Kids were a nail in an already closed coffin.  Mass consumer consumption of an I <3 NY counterculture had already begun as Koch was closing Plato's Retreat.  Experimentation, in every form, was best undertaken elsewhere.  Today's Manhattan is solidified in its own concrete, constantly in pursuit of the next new best thing, but having little patience for the anything experimental that doesn't have a pre-approved credit card offer in the mail.

What inspired artists to continue flooding to New York City and to try their absolute hardest to make art and careers in there had come earlier - and this is the moment explored in the excellent  Pioneers of the Downtown Scene - Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown and Gordon Matta-Clark at the Barbican Centre which I saw this past weekend (you have til the 22nd!).

Back in the day, Paola and I used to sneak into Trisha Brown
performances.  We were too poor to afford tickets, so we'd show up outside the theatre at around 9pm - hopefully just in time for the intermission.  We'd blend in with the showgoers, she'd smoke a cigarette and then we'd go back inside for the 2nd half.    We could see half of the program each time we did it.  I was never very good at this kind of thing, but there were invariably empty seats, people always moved closer and filled in the seats after the intermission and they never checked ticket stubs.  This is how I first became famliar with Brown's experiments with momentum and bodies in motion.

Much of what I found troubling about Trisha Brown as a choreographer came from being a dancer who wanted to express.  Her dancers were only expressions of motion.  This idea is explored so beautifully in the exhibit.  You can see where the ideas started, with simple, yet risky pieces like Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, to how they solidified into her highly identifiable style.

In this exhibit, what are most intriguing are her drawings and notes.  Many choreographers note nothing, and now it is so easy to videotape everything.  Brown was making diagrams and drawings which in some cases were actual notes on dances and in some cases are fascinating charts of energy flow in contained spaces.   That she was working to an evolving theory is evident, as well as that she was committed to her art all the way to the minutiae of it.

It's not news that Laurie Anderson is genius.  What I was so happily reminded of here is just how incredibly funny she is.  The ironic vocal distance which has developed as her signature storytelling style masks a youthful enjoyment of just how silly life and people are.  Her early cartoons for the Columbia Spectator through her holographic performance onto a miniature clay figurine bring out the playfulness of her process, revealing her as someone in complete command of her worldview.

Matta-Clark was the revelation for me here - I was not familiar with his work, but from his sweetly reductive drawings to his loving portraits of landscapes in decay, I was struck with how poignantly he captured the textures of this New York.  One photograph of tags in the Bronx thrilled me - dated 1972, it was ages before anyone was identifying graffiti culture for what it was - the colorful overlay of urban decay demanding vitality in a dying landscape.

The frequent dance performances brought home the active nature of all the work - everything here is essentially performance or real-time based - this is not a time capsule and exploration is meant to be an eternal process.

Looking at the very early work of these influential artists is inspiring in the extreme.  The exhibit shows more than brilliant conceptualization and follow-through - it shows the arduous nature of creation and the diligence artists must possess in order to manifest work.  Though it often appears so, art is not responsive to laziness, weakness, or timidity.  Art requires commitment on a cellular level.  Imagine being young Laurie Anderson installing yourself asleep in public spaces in a crime and poverty riddled Manhattan.  The over-riding takeaway from this exhibit:

Don't fear your art - inhabit it.

As if all of this wasn't completely lovely and overwhelming, my companion and I joined a few other friends to watch Wim Wender's new 3D movie Pina.  The experience of it was altogether saturating.  The meticulousness of the process of the filmmaking, the redolence of each image, the more than total immersion into this creative journey were indelibly moving.  This film is landmark.  It far surpasses my two previous favorites in this genre, Rivers and Tides and Touch the Sound - A Sound Journey With Evelyn Glennie, both by Thomas Riedelsheimer, which in some ways seems impossible, as they are both such elegant and engrossing films.  It is also a stunning example of how 3D is truly going to change our lives and the medium.

Pina Bausch
Whether you are familiar with the work of Pina Bausch or not, this performance, and I write that because it feels so spontaneous and real from the audience perspective, is completely accessible and a masterful tribute to a consummate artist.  Both the art and the process are revealed by Wenders' champion cinematic eye.  Each frame feels precision-painted and completely new and evolving as a collaboration between these dancers, Pina's spirit, and Wenders journey as a filmmaker.

I felt as though I wanted to cry during the whole film - the grief she explores in her work is so fundamental, and yet, also elated, as the work itself is so full of jubilance.  Reminded again how hard dancers work and how thankless the profession is, we were all thrilled to see dancers in her company who had been there decades - well past the age they'd have been put out to pasture by other choreographers.

But Pina was more than a choreographer. She was a creator of a more vivid life than life as art.  Each moment of each piece gets complete fulfilment with all of the knowledge all of the players can bring to bear and all of the expression their bodies and faces can hold and all of the love she can use to support it.

We talk a lot about meta in a twitter world, but her art is truly meta - it exists on a plane that floats above real life, yet represents it in a fuller, more beautiful and much more devastating way.  Wenders' 3D movie version just drives it home - we are absolutely creating our own realities now; the only question is:  what do we want them to look like?

Go.  See.  This.  Film.

Monday, 9 May 2011

30/30 - Influences


if you asked me I’d probably say


but if I think about it
it’d be


doused broken hearts
with gravel and whisky-voiced men
pool sharking right-handed
maker’s rocks left
observations grow on me like extra limbs
watching more natural than breathing

are supposed to
feel for a living

but I have always been that one
thinks too fast on her feet
drags heart from chest into mouth
bites down to taste blood squirt
into brain spray painting
NOTICE ME on grey matter
just so it can get some attention
sole gut instinct
run FAST
be first to abandon
if it weren’t for the 34D’s
I might mistake myself occasionally
for a man

I’m just woman invisibility cloaked in male idiom
refusing limiting vocabulary like tightened corsets
will sit alone at the bar on the dark side of town
if there’s a good story in it
take it pock-marked hung over and ugly
as long as it’s transcendent

sing Ol 55 for breakfast
mantra for lines as achingly simple as hank’s
kayak Port Angeles to breathe Carver’s dying lungs
lost virginity in Fitzgerald’s backyard
trip that Dylan’s lyrics were written by wind
and everybody knows about me and Miller, Henry

rugged where I should be fragile
not interested in complaint
demand to define
Zorah nomading language
from dust to pulp
training our ears with her footsteps
so she could story us true spirit people

no Tess, no Zelda
have never stooped to literary wife
no “Women of the Beats”
no condescending misogyny
no blonde in the bleachers for me

Sandbloom with his sweetness should cover Joni
I cover the grit the flat tires on dirt roads
3 mile icy cold walks behind no bus fare
ain’t eaten today but much obliged for the drink
don’t know where I’m sleeping but I’m sure it will all work out

this is troubadour territory

I am pilgrimage
Malcolm not Martin
I will not polish mean neat and shiny
I will never stop at pretty to think so
dammit – that’s where the real book starts
with a shotgun in a barn in Idaho
deeper truth = better art

there is nothing small
about the language of the heart
but there is more out there
the heart needs exercise to keep beating
love needs practice in real time

enough sometimes to love
the leftover sticky of glucose
on the polished wooden bar
the felt of the left corner pocket
the sound of the cue into the 8
the way it sinks bumps rolls away
because they simply are

and people so frequently just disappear
it happens sometimes
people just

so while I write to live
i write boldly
go where no man has gone before
write woman expressed exposed
even what you don’t want to know

mother kathy acker
father de beauvoir simone
woolf drowns frightened of her power
plath asphyxiates choice but
grandmother francEyE
breathed every moment
of 86 years alive into poetry

grandfather clock
done ticking santa clauses
it is high time we defined
our ever redefining selves ourselves
surrender heartbreak to pool cue
take up life lust with paint brush
paint it paint it paint it paint it
just paint it every damn day.

c. e. amato

So, I'm now going to 100 poems in 100 days.  I'm not going to keep cross-posting, I think.  You'll have to look in in my FB notes for the rest.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Monday's Quote - Chuang Tzu

The action of non-action is called Heaven.
The words of non-action are called Virtue.
To love all humanity and to bring success to them is called benevolence.
To unite that which is not united is called greatness.
To go beyond barriers and boundaries is called open-handedness.
To have a vast multitude of things is called wealth.
To have and to hold Virtue is called guidance.
To grow in maturity in Virtue is called stability
To be aligned with the Tao is called completion.
To refuse to allow anything external which distracts you is called perfection.
- Chuang Tzu

Thursday, 5 May 2011

which leads me to letting it happen (and also 29/30)

The Bar there is a 29/30 down here in this post, but first onto what inspired it.

April's super-fun and highly interactive labyrinth installation The King & the Minotaur by Wignall and Moore at Babel Studios a workspace for creatives that encourages collaboration and communication.

If you didn't check it out you missed being led into a converted stable space filled with panels and secret passageways, sculptural items (some living) hidden in corners, dancing girls, video, live music and even grilled meat. 

This is a before picture.  There will be no after pictures.

Feeling a little shy and lonely (no for real!), I found a corner underneath David Ibbett's above ground mini-music studio to hang out.  

He was creating an impromptu score for the evening from on high while I tucked into a corner on a bale of hay and wrote a poem (ah...29/30 -- it all connects eventually in the labyrinth).  

There's still hay on my keyboard.  Well, everywhere, really.
Bottles and bottles of the stuff

Later,  I was somehow induced (vanity? redemption?) to spit a poem from one of the rickety wooden ladders which was mighty scary.  Very glad I didn't start with the lovely Sipsmith's Gin until after... 

There was so much awesomeness involved I decided to pop by the next night to take pictures and maybe catch a set from one of my favorite acts, the Hackney Colliery Banda brass hip hop cover band.  

As usual, their sex was on fire, I forgot to leave to make it to the Freewheelers/Gideon Conn show and ended up staying all night.  

Sometimes it's hard to choose between all your favorite bands.

It can be daunting how much work it takes to make something that is beautiful and inspiring in real time.   

Words aren't like buildings - they come or they don't, they are stubborn on Thursdays, they drop from your fingertips on Sunday mornings, they last but they are never actually real.

The labyrinth will come down, but it was there.  Art created to create more art and more life.  Excellent premise and achievement.

Oh - yes - 29/30:

site specific
(king and minotaur- for brad and james)

in babel
behind the screens
years shielded from knowing
what became of them
the smell of burnt burning
offerings brick dust earth underfoot

he says
is this happening
she says
he says
letting it happen

these are the details of
muslin stretch of time
we are lit ground up
built ceiling down

love is
a 4-letter word
best forgotten
amidst begotten frivolity
taste delirious on tongue

this trip
you might not want to take
this trip
you might already have taken
this trip
has no name

the pretty girls swirl angles
don’t have enough clothes
their bodies
partitioned by
weights and balances


this rain
spits fire
this fire
spits conversation
this conversation
gets louder and louder
I get quieter quieter
in my corner
on a bale of hay
bumbling toward meaning

there is an order
intentional getting lost
spatial octave defined
for infinite riff

but meaning
has departed on
the Eurostar
hoping to escape the hype
and remember
everything is fine
everything is fine
it is.