I'm for ever fascinated where one foot in front of the other can lead.
Yesterday I got an email from Adrienne Lloren, a young entrepreneur in Toronto who interviewed me this year for her online summit, "The Thriving Artist."
In her email she mentioned one of her mentors, Jim Rohn. I'd never heard of him and curious to know where Adrianne gets her energy and inspiration I did a quick google search. Wikipedia told me that he had been a mentor for Tony Robbins. I was more curious.
So I followed a link and watched a couple of videos in Youtube. His talks are about mindset, full of handy phrases and practical common sense. There was some useful information in talks titled "Focus on One Thing", and "How to Use Your Time Wisely."
I was tidying up paperwork so listened as I sorted.
As it does Youtube suggested some other videos. In the "coming next" box appeared videos from Dr Wayne Dyer - someone I had heard mentioned various times however I never had listened to any of his work.
Youtube makes it easy for the curious. One video was called "On the Tao and A Million Little Pieces." I listened to various of the talks as I sorted paperwork and Dyer talked about living the "inspired life."
Two things struck me. The first was that one of his chosen quotes was a quote from the British poet, print maker and visionary, William Blake that I have used many times in workshops and in my website,
To see a world in a Grain of Sand,
This quote always reminded me of what anthropologist Victor Turner talked about in "communitas" - the ability of culture to link people, and the power of art and culture can make you look and look again.
The second factor that surprised me was Dyer talking about 3.15am as one of those special times when you have more access to your quiet and true place. The Celtic Christians called it a "thin place" - where we are closer to that something else. Dyer quotes Rumi's saying, ""The breeze at dawn has special messages for you. Do not go back to sleep."
You've guessed it, I woke up, got up to go to the loo, checked the time, and of course it was 3.15am. In the spirit of the coincidence I did my dues and took out a notebook and put down some thoughts.
Each day is this sum of one foot in front of the other and the curiosity to find where my nose will lead me next.
In the talk, Dyer mentions the book he is working on based on the Tao Te Ching to be called “Change The Way You Look At Life And The Life You're Living Changes.” I don't know if the book stayed with that title but whatever the title I'm sure that it was as fascinating as this talk about our thinking.
New Year, New steps. Stay awake even just for the sake of a curiosity to see what might happen.
I have had a week of the strangest dreams with mixes of friends from all stages of my life all jumbled up and including last night Samuel L Jackson coming to return a coat that did not fit. It's not the moon but the 50th anniversary of the drama degree that I took at Exeter University. It was a rare beast set up by young theatre makers who were influenced by studio based laboratory style practices such as were happening in Poland with Jerzy Grotowski, or with Peter Brook's long rehearsal processes and long cycles. The brain child was John Rudlin who brought us his knowledge of Commedia del Arte, Dadaism and Surrealism. It was made possible by the genius mind of Shakespeare expert Professor Peter Thomson, and various others such as Les Read, Nick Sales and Glendyr Sacks.
What was unique about it? Many things but particularly the idea that a British university would offer a practice based course as opposed to looking at historical or literary aspects of theatre. It was a pioneer. The inspired and intelligent team fought also for assessments based on practice so out of the nine parts of our final assessment seven, if I remember correctly, were practical.
We had studio spaces. Another fight was to acquire and maintain the Roborough which had been a science lab as our performance space. It was a huge flexible space with beautiful tall windows and scary basement vaults that I never fancied going into.
What is more in my year back in the eighties the numbers were capped so that there were eight of us doing single honours drama and twelve doing combined with English and one or two more combined with German. That meant that for three years we worked together constantly so it was as if we were a mini theatre ensemble.
I think I will need many posts to put the experience into adequate words. We were young. far from home and swimming in a sea of creativity that was as overwhelming as it was wonderful. There was sweat and confusion. What held it together was the vision and flare of the founding team, including the strong presence of Les Read, Dorinda Hulton, Nick Sales and Glendyr Sacks.
We were kitted out with black karate suits, black leggings (which were the limit for most of the guys) and a black leotard. The idea was to take out personality from the process of the rehearsal room - these were laboratory theatre concepts - somewhere between Peter Brook's "Empty Space" and Grotowski's "Poor Theatre."
The truth is that it took years to be able to balance such an intense, exquisite and strange three years. We didn't have modules but worked on a theme or concept for five weeks leading to a performance. For this reason fellow graduates have become dramaturgs, opera directors, fine artists, writers, headmasters, community centre leaders, academics, researchers, and think there is even a diamond merchant - in other words people who found their own weird life combinations.
Five weeks of full time hours on themes like Kathakali dance drama; Mask work and Commedia; the structure of a Shakespearian five act history play (including writing and performing our own); and so on.
The feather in the cap was the final third year project which was to make 20 minutes of theatre - anyway, anyhow you wanted but with the rule that it had to be 20 mins. We acted in each others and each took responsibility for the tech in one discipline so I was one of the sound team.
I think I'm glad that this was all before mobile phone and even video cameras. So we were just making and doing constantly - most of it quite bad but with much enthusiasm.
My karate-suit's trousers ended up being faded and softer than a cloud. In my last move they got thrown out which in this 50th anniversary nostalgia, I know regret.
If I've learnt to make it up as I go along it was from these years. There were mistakes and it was damn confusing at times yet finally a catalyst for nearly all the other stages and impulses in my life.
So it brings me great joy to see faces I have not seen for many years, and to be able to feel all the same hope, desire, enthusiasm, emotion, vulnerability, tenderness and passion.
Youth is wasted on the young, of course. And as Picasso said, "It takes a long time to become young.”
I am enjoying from afar this 50th anniversary which far from making me feel old, makes me feel extremely young and more determined than ever to make similar experiences possible for other.
Deborah Claire Procter
Sometimes we find ourselves searching in and from a “don’t know” space that is filled with echoes, reflections, and glimpses of children’s games.
It is un-nerving.
I think of the term “playwright.” Why don’t we spell it “play-write”?
Because we need our hands not just our heads to shape the new.
"Playwright" comes from the archaic English term, wright. We are like wheelwrights, cartwrights - ready not only with ears and eyes, but with hands trained to shape and craft play.
We are fishing in the land of paradox to catch edges, moments unseen, and words un-whispered.
I want my intuitive leaps to lead to something timeless and hypnotic – creating a space to pause and re-figure.
Let’s hope that we can mix vulnerability with skill, to keep things as raw and fresh as possible - to fill a bottle with light and more that just one P.O.V, perhaps some Beckett, Brecht, and a little Shakespeare.
Transfixing and hauntingly delicate Karakuri puppet, mechanical dolls and automata from Japan.
"The word 'Karakuri' means a mechanical device to tease, trick, or take a person by surprise. It implies hidden magic, or an element of mystery. In Japanese ‘Ningyo’ is written as two separate characters, meaning person and shape." (LAW 1997, p 18)
LAW, J. M., 1997. Puppets of Nostalgia. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Sited from http://karakuri.info 31.08.16
What better gift for an 18th birthday than books, especially if it is a surprise gift from the Italian government.
Christopher Hooton, in the Guardian describes the new and farsighted policy, "In a move designed to remind young people that culture can enrich one’s life and bring people together, Italian citizens are to get a €500 (£430) ‘culture bonus’ on their 18th birthday."
Wonderful to see a government place such a high value on culture. Perhaps the move will be picked up by other countries as Italy sets an example.
“The initiative sends a clear message to youngsters, reminding them that they belong to a community which welcomes them once they come of age... It also reminds them how important cultural consumption is, both for enriching yourself as a person and strengthening the fabric of our society.”
See full article here
The news around the world is a whirl wind. We search for a horizontals that seems it will take us forever to re-find. In this light whilst leafing through old journals I found an inspiring quote from the determined British film-maker Terry Gilliam who has seen his fair share of up and downs, and the twists of outrageous fortune.
Read it to take your mind back to its creative problem solving centre...
As a child, I always drew funny creatures, funny characters. But I think the trick is not to grow up, not to learn to be an adult. And if you can maintain the kind of imagination you all had when you were babies, you would all be wonderful filmmakers. But the world tries to make you grow up, to stop imagining, stop fantasizing, stop playing in your mind. And I’ve worked hard to not let the world educate me.
Whole article: Ten Lessons on Filmmaking From Terry Gilliam
It's a rainy Saturday in Buenos Aires and Oscar Edelstein just shared a homage to the late Muhammad Ali on his Facebook page.
Maybe it's strange that an avant-garde composer would be moved to post about the passing of a boxer, especially with so many perceived divisions between high and low culture. Yet perhaps what Edelstein noticed with the nose of a life-long experimenter was Ali's spirit as a searcher speaking out, and looking for meaning and new perspectives.
So it seems a moment to follow Edelstein's lead, and share the historic interview with Sir Michael Parkinson, who said today that Muhammad Ali "was the biggest star they've ever had boxing, and maybe ever will have."
The interview is the famous speech where Ali asks why are all the cultural images - from angels to Tarzan in the jungle - are of white people.
Asked about the first time he met him backstage, Parkinson said: "It's not often, given the job I had, that I was allowed to be gob-smacked, but he did gob-smack me as he walked across the floor. I'd never seen a more graceful and beautiful man. He was extraordinary."
As Edelstein wrote, "This man was the greatest boxer that I have seen but someone who also thought, and this is what they never forgave. See the interview, it is really not to be missed."
The interview is from 1981, an incredible 35 years ago, when this kind of discourse around race was not so mainstream. So it seems that Ali's bravery in the ring was really therefore nothing compared to his fight to speak out.
Ali died the same day that in her final commencement address as first lady, to graduates of City College in New York, Michelle Obama talked about diversity; free speech; the achievements of United States such as Google, eBay, the artificial heart, the telephone, blue jeans, Russian-born Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," the Brooklyn Bridge and the White House; and she even acknowledged that she wakes up every day in a house built by slaves.
She remembered "the son of Polish immigrants named Jonas Salk who toiled for years in a lab until he discovered a vaccine that saved countless lives" and "the story of the son of Jamaican immigrants named Colin Powell who became a four-star general, secretary of state, and a role model for young people across the country."
Michelle Obama spoke about the danger of building walls.
Of course we all know that walls can be physical but also intellectual and emotional, they can be of class as well as of race or religion. My naive hope is for a future where the only walls we will need are those to put bookcases against.
In remembering the brave voice of Muhammad Ali, I hope that we also take a moment to remember to include in that list of achievements of the US many more figures such as (to name a few) John Coltrane, Spike Lee, Prince, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Josephine Baker, and of course next on the list, let us now hope, that Muhammed Ali will be there.
Thank you for provoking us to see the world from a different angle, Muhammed Ali. When you get to heaven may you float like a butterfly, and please let us know that the angels really are from all walks of life.
RIP Muhammad Ali.
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.
As a creator I have often been drawn to the concept that noted director Peter Brook (amongst many other things known for being the co-founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company and author of the key theatre text "The Empty Space") calls "the formless hunch" - it is that feeling that doesn't go away and though it maybe as vague and un-solid as a gentle waft of perfume in the air, something of it pertains and lingers. It is like something that you cannot put your finger on, but that will not go away.
For me, one such "formless hunches" is the presence of the horse. It makes little sense as I am not, nor ever have been, a rider - yet as a child as an avid reader I loved novels with horses (I seem to remember that one was of course Black Beauty by Anna Sewell).
Living in Aberystwyth (West Wales) from 2000, I was very lucky to be close to Equilibre Horse Theatre, a company founded by Jane Lloyd-Francis alongside the dressage company, Carreg. Equilibre Horse Theatre (which sadly is no longer running) was a wonderful experimentation with actors and horses that led to a production each summer. Regular actors were colleagues such as Ian Morgan who comes with an impeccable pedigree of years in the Grotowski Workcenter, and is a long term member of the "Song of the Goat" (just this week mentioned in the Guardian guide to 10 best alternative city breaks as one of the reasons to visit Wroclaw). Directors included Centre for Performance Research's Richard Gough, and designers like Simon Banham (co-founder of Quarantine) so the work was always highly visually, physical and filled with vocal colour and intensity.
This opportunity combined with my fascination of choreographers like Trisha Brown and the whole post modern dance movement which Sally Banes outlined and marked in "Terpsichore in Sneakers" where she mapped out the important shapers (such as Judson Dance Theatre, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, David Gordon, Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs, Meredith Monk, Kenneth King, Douglas Dunn and The Grand Union) and their steps to move through and beyond the restrictions of classical technique. Virtuosity for virtuosities sake was questioned and choreographers like Brown took to exploration of alternative performance spaces, and the lines between trained and un-trained movement, so that pedestrian movements such as walking or falling were equally relevant in a choreography as would be a jeté or arabesque.
In this vein, to work with horses that have an extensive movement training was completely intriguing. I began a brief collaboration in with Jane Lloyd-Francis in my site specific work "Seapiece" in 2002. In the spring of 2010, the Arts Council of Wales funded a period of research and development of a project that I called “What if? / Beth os?” so there was a chance to continue the exploration.
My idea was to investigate ideas about landscape and its representation in performance based around questions of how to make a song of a space, and how to make a portrait of a landscape.
I was returning to West Wales after a large amount of time spent in Argentina. So it was as if as well as the voice of Dylan Thomas in my head, I had added the labyrinthian words and world of Jorge Luis Borges. Thus I began this work thinking about the strange mirror that exists between Patagonia and Wales, where despite a separation of 13,000 kilometres and many years, there still persists a community of Welsh speakers. I was thinking of landscape and travel where the horse has been a key to our development.
During the working process composer Oscar Edelstein came up with the title “A Horse Bleeding Shakespeare” that perfectly captured the magical epic presence of the horse and its ability to be a macro or microcosm.
The final result of the research process that culminated in a day's filming on Ynyslas beach.
An exhibition is being planned in Buenos Aires for later in 2016 and at the end of 2016 there will be a full colour book.
It was a "formless hunch" that led to images that I had not predicted and was thanks to an incredible team of collaborators.
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Complete set of 55 images
The images in this series of 55 are available as limited edition fine-art archival prints sized at 375 x 500 cm each limited to 15 plus 5 Artist's Proofs. All prints will be hand numbered and signed by the artist. They will be also supplied with Provenance Certificates authenticating the type of paper, date printed and number in the edition. In addition there is a PDF explaining more about the work.
As a performer, video maker and production collaborator from Cardiff, I have been working with Argentina's best kept secret, composer Oscar Edelstein (who is seen as Latin America's own Stockhausen by many people for the far fetching sweep of his musical universe) since 2003 when I gained a Wales Arts International travel grant called "Go and See." At that point being based in West Wales I travelled with fellow visual artist Angharad Taris to meet with our host, the Argentinean experimental choreographer, Siliva Pritz. The trip allowed us to visit Patagonia with all the obvious emotions of discovering your mother tongue being spoken 11,000 miles from home.
Whilst I speak only fragmented Welsh, there was something in this triangle between Welsh, English and Spanish that continued to inspire me to make further trips up until the point that I am now pretty much bi-lingual English - Spanish.
For those who know little of contemporary culture in Latin America, Edelstein is a composer with a well developed history as an artist, and an incredible ability to provoke and crystallise in equal measure. What's more - he has all the added flare needed to survive in the volatile artistic and political climate of Argentina and Latin America.
This distinguished career, in brief, lead Edelstein to being in 1992 the youngest artist to win Argentina's prestigious award of the Antorchas' Scholarship for Outstanding Artists of the Intermediate Generation (which he used to compose his opera El Telescopio), and then to more recently in 2011 the Fondo Nacional de las Artes presented him with the Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution.
My collaboration with Oscar Edelstein - beginning in 2003 - has led to an exploration of vocal work that has become part of the recent concerts of one of Edelstein's projects, that of his own ensemble, the Ensamble Nacional del Sur.
I am honoured to have received critic that have compared the vocals to pinnacles of contemporary music and jazz, namely Cathy Berberian (the soprano who famously worked with the Italian composer Luciano Berio), and the free jazz vocalist Lauren Newton (known as a founding member of the Vienna Art Orchestra).
The comparisons were fascinating because my references points for the vocals that are in the live concerts and the recent disc of the ensemble, (ENS for short) were different and neither of the comparisons were sources known to me.
My line of work is far more orientated in the lines created by Grotowski that I had the chance to explore in depth after my graduation when I had the opportunity to work with Theatre Alibi in a project that took us for two weeks training in Poland with "Gardzienice" Theatre Association (founded in 1977 by Włodzimierz Staniewski). Their intensity and dedication to practice, studio work, training and exploration is second to none and no doubt marked my ear, breath and body.
Thus my vocal work emerges more from theatrical practice than from lyrical or jazz traditions. I am searching for lines as if walking a tight rope blind folded yet convinced of the rope that spans one side to another. It comes from a complete trust and intuition in the power of, and the need to communicate.
It is hard to capture the intensity of a concert of the ensemble that runs for just over an hour without pause and with changes of dynamics that are for the audience mesmerising.
This recent video of a sound check goes a long way to give the essence and it gives a snap shot of the wonderful duo I share with saxophonist Martín Proscia who is a composer and a researcher studying multi-phonics in the saxophone, alongside running his own ensemble.Video whilst now easy to share high quality images still lacks high quality sound - so this sharing is a translation that requires intelligence and sensitivity for the viewer. What cannot be heard has to be imagined and for this reason, as an artist keen to create new spaces for cultural experience, I have begun to use the format of posts to form a back up. In this line I discovered some writing around 2003 which in many ways anticipates the work I am now making in collaboration with Oscar Edelstein.
This search for bridges still intrigues and motivates me. I hope to continue to be able to extend the span and reach of this work with much respect, humility and gratitude for my many teachers.
"I look for something soft, natural, unexplained – somewhere between stillness and silence, motion and memory. I search from the “don’t know” space that is filled with echoes, reflections, and glimpses of children’s games. From the archaic English term, wright, I feel like a wheelwright, a cartwright - only my ears, eyes and hands are trained to shape and craft play. I fish in the land of paradox to catch edges, moments unseen, and words un-whisphered; to mix vulnerability with skill, and to keep things as raw and fresh as possible. I want my intuitive leaps to lead to something timeless and hypnotic– creating a space to pause and re-figure. If I could fill a bottle with anything it would be with light, more than one P.O.V., Beckett, Brecht and a little Shakespeare."
(Deborah Claire Procter - Artist's Statement 2003)
CLEAR INSIGHT PRODUCTIONS / CYNYRCHIADAU GWELEDIGAETH GLIR - founded in Wales by Deborah Claire Procter (Cardiff) to explore lines between different art-forms and to hold out the idea that art and culture bring new ways of being, doing and knowing.