Five days into the process and we are diving in deep with devising material; I suppose that one of the biggest developments in the form itself since Monday, has been the integration of the ‘shadows’. I am one of three of these enigmatic figures. In terms of structure, we seem to lend ourselves to being the frame that might contain the content of the original six performers or at the very least: give some contrast to their journey, and yet, in terms of material, we are almost one and alike. There’s a chance that all nine of us have panels in the installation: we will all need personal text and movement scores.
Originally with the shadows, I had a hard time engaging with this idea of cynicism as the entry point into this entire piece: the notions of “we don’t want you here” and “it’s all your fault”. I was wondering about the consequences of beginning a piece with no context for this hatred: if perhaps these characters could be too-easily categorized into the evil and spiteful shell-of-a-once-human-being archetypes, which for me, is not as interesting if we don’t push through this expectation. For a few days, I feel that we weren’t able to play against this concrete and all-consuming mold. The addition of the shadows began to feel abrasive and abusive, bordering on the edge of telling the others (and perhaps potential audience) that they were not-wanted and unnecessary in this place and time.
You are not needed here.
While this is a provoking place to be, it seemed counter to the concepts we were working with: the idea that we are from their future, coming full circle and trying to tell them what happened. What (at the time) was unclear, was why we were trying to stop the very events that defined our ancestors and made us who we are. More and more, I’m seeing this piece as a delving into our past to arrive at today (knowing the place for the first time): where does our history take us in our never-ending, cyclical search for definition? The people of our past are not only necessary, but should be seduced and invited step-by-step to where they belong, walking to the future with us, hand in hand. To this degree, I feel a desire from a place of being incomplete. We need and want them to succeed.
I’ve been thinking about ‘home’, especially after hearing all these personal stories of trying to retrace our lineage. A musician I follow, Gavin Castleton, once sang in a song: “Home is not the place you dwell. Home is where you see yourself”. Home is a tricky concept for Canadian society.
Where do you see yourself?
It wasn’t until Thursday when Eloi was reading his text, where his sensitivity resonated so strongly that we conceptualized the idea that maybe the shadows are not pushing the others away, but instead, inviting them to join the next part of the journey. This seems to frame things in a much more sensitive way, one that is conducive to sharing these personal stories. With this in mind, I would like to find small moments of that hurt and shame to play against any arising cathartic sentimentality. I believe there to be layers of access into this work; and I am continually trying to see where Henry’s idea of the herald fits in.
Regardless, us three ‘shadows’ have to solidify text and movement for next week. Speaking of which, I have also been doing vocal-warmups and as the main theatre research assistant, and I’m glad to be able to help with text production and speech; this week we concentrated on breath and awareness of the mechanisms for articulation. Some great voice work is happening and I look forward to facilitating more exploration. As always: ‘Let’s...go!”