Devised theatre can be a b*tch. But when it’s good, it’s really good.

Coming from a physical theatre background I know how hard devising theatre is. Early in my career my artistic vision lead to solo work – at the moment I only need one body to express my view of the world.
I saw my friends struggling with finding committed partners and even more struggling with finding a voice for their ensemble. It’s a fun struggle, because you grow so much as a person, but still it’s a struggle: you are trying to invent a language that no-one speaks yet and face a lot of failure in trying to translate it to your audience.  (If you’re lucky enough to have one.) Not only do you face failure, you face public failure – which takes this failure thing to a whole new level.
That’s why I have deep respect for my fellow travellers. Every inch of progress is hard earned.

My highlight of this year’s devised theatre performances was ghostland cinema by mingbeast.
Two women form this company and I had the pleasure to see their performance early march this year. And it was so good.
Two women deeply exploring, challenging each other, presenting the audience with their unique take.
I cannot tell you what the show was about. I remember having a deep emotional understanding of what I was seeing. I remember thinking: This is art.

Please go and see their work:
www.mingbeast.com

 

beast

I found a picture of our first encounter on their website. They are on stage and I’m leaning against the wall on the left.

A new generation of directors

Three weeks ago I had the pleasure to work with director James Blakey as part of a Slung Low production.

As someone who creates his own work I have the tendency to feel quite protective of it. Getting a director on board can be risky as my good friend David Duchin pointed out. It’s almost like letting someone else educate your child. Lots of potential for fuck-ups. And fuck-downs. (That must be the positive version. I’m just guessing.)

I’ve worked with James three times so far. And I’d describe him as: fearless, respectful and visionary.
Fearless might be the wrong word. I think I have used the expression ‘not afraid of being afraid’.

Never before have I worked with a director like him.
He has never pushed me and yet he created a space where I pushed myself. He directed his vision and yet he  gave me the freedom to make his vision my own.
And he takes traditional formats and takes them to a whole new level. How exciting is that?

I sense a change.  A change in how theatre companies work. Away from tyranny to true collaboration under direction. Away from big egos to big humans.
But also a change in what audiences are being invited to. Away from passive consummation  to fine dining. Without the massive  bill at the end.

Maybe that’s been happening for a long time already and I’m only aware of it now. Either way it’s exciting. We can be excited for a new wave of theatre guided by a new generation of directors.

If you get a chance to see James’ work, go and see it.
If you get a chance to work with him, do it!

” Theatre is a living organism”

“Theatre is a living organism. You only know if your show is working when you see it with an audience.”

I read a great article in the guardian today and it reminded of something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Tom Cruise.

To be honest, Tom is not a lot on my mind. I had to think about how to spell his surname. I think I got it right. And I’m not too familiar with his work.
I thought about how much artistic freedom does he have. And how much does he take for himself.
He seems to be on top (of… something) and I wonder how much he expects himself to deliver and how much he is willing to take risks.
A risk includes the possibility to make a fool out of yourself.
Like doing a mission impossible with a fake French accent. Potentially great. And potentially shit.

Enough about Tom. I’m sure he’s a good man.

In my work I do feel the pressure to deliver. People who hire me to be an illusionist as part of their gatherings expect me to deliver – the same way you expect a carpenter to build a table that works, and not one that might work.
I honour their expectations and fulfil them as much as humanly possible.

But to grow as an artist I need space to take risks and potentially make a fool out of myself. The same way a carpenter builds funky new tables in his spare time . Tables that might not work.

I think as a society we need space for experiments. We need to be able to fail.
One time I was invited to participate in artsy East London night of performances – and I decided to try something with a high chance of failure. Not because of lack of preparation or work on my part, but because I was entering very new territory. I thought I’m not getting paid for this, so I might as well go for it. And I did.
And I failed.
In front of 60 people.
And I was still alive.
What an experience. I can recommend it. It teaches you to find your self worth not in your achievements. Or lack of achievements. And it makes you free.
Not forever, but for a while.

And then? A guy came to me afterwards and said: “I like your style. I’d like to hire you to perform at my birthday.”

And I did. And I delivered. Hmmm.

“Theatre is a living organism. You only know if your show is working when you see it with an audience.”

Here’s a link to the article in the Guardian:
http://gu.com/p/4bcxe/stw

2 months

The last two months have been very busy. We have left London and moved into a beautiful flat in Vienna and at the same time I’ve travelled a lot doing gigs all over Austria.
I have just returned from a week of rehearsals and performances in England. Every year the brave people of #Stockton put on the #SIRF festival.
I’ll introduce the company, director and my amazing collaborators over the next weeks, but first I’d like to share my experience of the last week.

As an illusionist I’m very much used to working alone, setting my own goals and challenges – rehearsing and performing by myself.
There is a lot of joy and freedom in that – but I didn’t know how much I was missing out until last week.
How much I was missing out on challenges. I’m used to exploring what I can do, but working with other people I was very much pushed to explore what I didn’t know I could do or even explore things I thought I could not do.
Now this exciting.
Finding that you can do some of them and still can’t do some others.

This is a very important aspect of my work for me. Leaving what’s safe and comfortable.
I’m very happy with that (quite recent) development. My education encouraged me to stay safe – with the tried and tested;
Encouraged that part of me that wants to stay safe.
What changed?
I’m not sure.
Maybe a desire to experience more?
More of the “human” experience, more of myself?

Sometimes I see people who seem to have a very strong sense of who they are. A very strong sense that doesn’t leave much space for change.
I don’t like that very much.
For myself that is.

I enjoy knowing more of who I am, but I enjoy staying open to who I can be.
I was very lucky last week to find new friends who showed me who I can be,  who were not afraid to be afraid. Who were not afraid to be silly.
What a beautiful experience. I can highly recommend it.

Coming home. The other home.

I’ve decided to abandon iweb in favour of WordPress. Hence I’m stopping my old blog and start again fresh.

I’m returning from the fantastic SIRF festival,  where I was part of Slung Low’s Instant Light Circus under the direction of James Blakey, an extraordinary director.
The cast was incredible and I’ll introduce them (and beautiful Slung Low) over the next week.

I’m stopping in London for an hour.  It feels strange to be back after living here for so many years. But it’s still pleasant to enjoy a coffee before flying to my new home Vienna.

image

Time to go.