Tuesday, 13 November 2007

(Floor) filler

(originally posted on myspace here)

I think I'm allowed to do this. What follows is some of a response from me to a response posted by Chris Goode in response to responses posted to his response to a Guardian interview with the new head of the Royal Court that name-checked Shunt thus:

"With the formally inventive companies like Punchdrunk or Shunt, I'm always impressed by the exploration of theatrical language. But the challenge is to ally that to rich content. To get those two things working together, you need a writer."

You can maybe guess what followed. Anger, some interesting marking out of artistic territory, and also some depressing and unnecessary marking out of artistic territory - none of the latter, I have to say, from Chris who, I think partly inspired by Sesame Street, appears on paper hearteningly keen on accepting and coordinating the differences between things.

For example: In his response to which this is a response Chris suddenly becomes sidetracked by the idea of "a building that you drop in to pretty much anytime, at least from mid-morning till midnight, and what you're able to do is sit with a rolling theatre event. You can just watch, or you can intervene; you can stay for five minutes or five hours. Like going to a gallery, or the pub, or a church."

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So I responded...
RE: your sidetrack, and churchgoing. The nearest thing to what you seem to be writing about here (and I do indeed pop into a church for the same reason I pop into a gallery, I was thinking about that recently, historically etc.) is the Shunt Lounge, which you don't like, and I'm interested why not. (There was stuff about this between you and Tassos [Stevens] a while back but I found it just very wordy and unclear what either of you were actually ever saying). Is it the public? You see, sometimes there is dancing, but even that relates a bit to what you and Ian are discussing... [The Ian here is Ian Shuttleworth... Shunt's first and greatest critical supporter (sorry that's another Ian, no Ian Shuttleworth hates Shunt) here found sensibly championing the "collective context" of a personal theatrical experience; in other words I suppose, yes your experience is personal, but part of that experience is that you're in a crowd. Even when, as in some promenade work, you choose to leave it.] A lot in fact [You might have to read over that again] Someone please try and untangle dancing's private/communal threads while we're here - and when I saw Bobby Francois [Shunt's first big big show] at the Drome, now I think of it, the audience did at one point start dancing. Just an aside really, not evidence of a project's merit.
And do you know about Nijinsky Karaoke, because your sidetrack has suddenly made that exercise seem very worthwhile?
[Here I post a link to the video up on my homepage. Then I pick up on something Chris says about a work being a testimony, and therefore public, but also necessarily to be presented by the testimonee, which I don't agree with, at ugly length:]
"This is who we are." I couldn't care less. Art need not be self-expression, simply expression... I've read it over again, no you're definitely wrong. And what happened to "the people coming out of my mouth" you discovered doing Hippo World? Any play text that is any good will REQUIRE the performer to implicate him or herself. That's an actor's job. You see this is what aggravated me so much when you kept talking about "asking these people to walk through fire" when working on Speed Death [his last show, a play]. Chris, YOU WERE WORKING WITH PROFESSIONAL FIRE WALKERS. That's their job! They WANT to walk through fire! ...

And I go on and on like that, but end I hope friendlily. Chris's is a great blog. Very funny (for example). Do give it a look: http://beescope.blogspot.com/2007/10/deposit-box-pilot-books-of-pigs-in-thes.html

I've been at Shunt a lot lately, doing work with David on "contains violence". I won't write about it here, I haven't the time. That will come next. Along with some thoughts on "the public" that week. It might just be worth adding though, while cannibalising my own opini-spew, something I found panning through the notebooks for Laurence and Gus which, while a year old now, still rings true:

I am in the business of making people pay attention, and learning how to make people pay attention and keep their attention - NOT because what I have to say is important, but because paying attention is important - and stories are a very good way of keeping people's attention, and so is music - and nor is comedy, which is why the writing of sketches comes so unnaturally to me, and why sketches packed with punchlines are so full of "Hey" & "And Just think..."

Laurence likes stories though. And Gus likes music. So, good. There was also this:

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