Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Salome - In Cognito Volume 3

THE RABBLE and Carriage Works present SALOME - IN COGNITO VOLUME 3, at Bay 19 Carriage Works.

AIM: To explore a way of performing. To develop a style of theatre that explores the possibilities of the instrument (physical and vocal) and a new form of expression that is different from the expected. (As an art form are our methods dated? Have we developed as openly as say the plastic arts or music?

TOOLS: A swimming pool. A glass museum case. (At least large enough to display a full grown man.) A set of metal gurney tables with kitchen equipment. eg A juicer, a blender, a micro wave oven, a cutting board, kitchen utensils (especially knives), some foods (Strawberries; they weep red juice when cut up or blended, yeh!), olive oil etc.
More to come......

INGREDIENTS: Think A Bible Story.Think Commedia. Think Caravaggio. Think Oscar Wilde (too much Baroque Language ?????) Think Lindsay Kemp (Didn't he do Salome as well?) Think La Fura dels Baus, Think Peter Greenaway. Think Derek Jarman. Think John Waters. Think Robert Wilson. Think Anne Bogart and Viewpoints. Think Annabelle Arden and Theatre de Complicite. Think Castelluci (I don't know him well enough, just a little.).
More as it comes........

Step 1. Put in juicer.
Step 2. Mix in Blender.
Step 3. Put in Micro wave ‘til you think it is cooked.
Step 4. Find “a structure in repetition and accumulation” (avoid when tempted “a faithful representation of a linear narrative.”) ie “do not hold onto the hope of a narrative cohesion .”
Step 5. Ask Questions, do not give answers, they are less interesting.
Step 6. Pour onto stage.
More to come.......

RESULT: “Images that are shocking, boring, disquieting” etc. I saw a very beautiful awe inspiring space equipped with the above props. I saw a woman (Salome) in a period crinolined wedding dress in white face and bleached white hair wearing a veil dragging a Styrofoam Esky with a rope behind her. I saw a handsome bearded man (Herod) with a shoulder fur wrapped round him. (I think pants.) I saw a bearded man (Herodias) in a blue crushed velvet full length cocktail dress in high heels with a diamante bracelet. (Surprise. No actresses available or is this a statement?) I saw a bearded man (John the Baptist) in an ancient skirt like thing in a glass cabinet. I saw a woman (Judith. Really? Two bible women!! Oh, I see.) dressed non specifically -sometimes a person/sometimes a dog (?). They then moved about the stage engaging, not engaging physically mostly. Dragged the glass case around etc. Sometimes they put their hands down their throats, either their own or someone else's. Sometimes they pulled something out of a throat accompanied by a gagging sound. Sometimes they had frottage with each other, or simulated anal sex. Once, someone lay on their back and jerked about on the floor whilst having a creamy substance piped onto their face and in to their mouth. Also someone cut up someone’s wrists and then washed them clean in the swimming pool. Someone went into the glass case and out of a big bottle threw red paint or tomato sauce all over the front panel. (It was an image of blood!!). Then someone got a chain saw and buzzed it menacingly a few times and then pretended too cut off the head of John the Baptist .The same person dragged the Esky pass us again into the wings and then the others stood in a dishevelled line their costumes were now really dirty etc and Salome came on stage with a real almost new baby (the most gorgeous baby; AH something truly beautiful at last.) They then sang a song in types of harmony, the gist of their text being something like "Sometimes it is sunny and sometimes it is rainy. Sometimes I am happy and sometimes I am sad" etc. (Not exact but approximate.) A lot more happened too. The images were accompanied by a very interesting Soundscape by Max Lyandvert. It sustained me through the piece.

This is an exploration into Performance Art. This was mostly derivative and probably needs more “microwaving” for it to cook into an original form or statement that is exciting and/or palatable. It is still very much for me Performance Kitsch. (Bringing on the baby absolutely tipped it into it for me) On the card inviting us to search out the performance, the blurb suggests that "Salome drips with taboo, sex & sublime." Taboo only if you have been in a Hermit's cave. Sex only if you are a very new voyeur. Sublime, depending on your sensibilities, and I think some of the audience might go for Puerile. On my night there were about 30 of us. Only two left. I had a much better time than I thought I would having been warned. I look forward to Volume 4. On opening night I understand 44 Sydneysiders elected to leave. Is it
Sydney or is it the work? Whichever you decide I believe Sydney needs to be more adventurous so you can say "at least I can say I saw it and this is what I think. How about you?"


Anonymous said...

I was there on Opening. No one left. We were all very polite. Everyone agrees the space is amazing but that they spent the time wondering how they would use it if they were doing a show there.I am curious as to how such an underdeveloped group which displays such lack of rigor while claiming the influence of such rigorous artists has convinced Carriageworks that they deserve to use the space for free and enjoy co-production support. Someone is pulling the wool over someone's eyes here. Thank you for your breakdown Kevin. Yes I saw it, and I think that just because they are the only ones doing it, doesn't make it good. They need to get better or get out. They have shown no development from their last work Corvus. My advice is go, but only if you get a free ticket.
Chris B

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to add with regards to Max Lyandvert's sound Kevin that while yes it wasn't boring, and yes it ticked all the boxes of 'avant' sound (extreme contrast in volume, abrupt interruptions, techno distortion, varying use of microphone, all meant to play with ideas of sound expectation) he has been recycling the same techno effects for the last few years now - I have heard the same tracks in most of the shows he has done. The only time he bothers to do all original work is when he is directing or Barrie pushes him really hard. It's like he goes back to the same cd every time. The effect sitting under the moment where the gyrating dance happens in front of the plastic box I swear I have heard in four shows at least in the last two years. I'm not saying that composers have to keep creating new work all the time but if you are really exploring sound in relation to work then I don't think you can use the same effects for work as diverse as Calderon, Shakespeare, Foreman, Jeffreys, Harrower and The Rabble. At which point does sampling your own work become lazy? I'm not a sound designer I don't know - I would be interested to hear the response from SDs in Sydney who are familiar with his work to give a more informed critique.

Chris B