It ain't easy what we have asked these performers to do each night. Loop Diver is not a pleasurable piece to perform. It is physically demanding, obliviously repetitive and (perhaps) emotionally numbing. I don't know what the physical or emotional sensations are but I know it's not "fun". I know it because I feel it from the performers when they are not performing. When they show up at the theater each day, I feel a kind of fatigue? Hesitance? Disappointment? Not sure exactly what – and this is not a critical statement just an observation. But I sense that it takes a very different kind of preparation to perform this work (one of the dancers told me so tonight). Another of the dancers asked me a few days ago what I thought this piece was about, for me. I told him that it was about my life. I said it in a kind of glib way and laughed and walked away. I laughed because it's scary for me. I realized a few days later that, while that answer is true, it is useless to the performers. They don't know my life really. So, to put it in a more universal frame, I told them tonight that the work is about " the emotional repercussions of being caught in a loop, a pattern, a cycle with the intention of transcendence". Transcendence can be escape, or acceptance. It can be resistance or comfort. It can be and already is, actually, a personal response by each performer to the imposition of the loop, pattern and cycle. So, while the imposition of the structure is me, the journey and response is theirs. And they are doing a PHENOMINAL job of embodying the subtle responses to this imposition as set upon them. Everyone that gives me feedback on this work talks about the performers and how committed and precise and intense and involved they are. I know this. I know that this work IS the performers. Their interpretation is what makes it powerful for me. And personal for me. Isn't that funny that a piece about my life can be so beautifully expressed by people who aren't me.
So, while we are still working to make the personal and the theatrical fit together, and work on details and intonation, I am deeply moved by these performers willingness to go through a not so pleasurable experience each night. Of course, I am making an assumption that it's not pleasurable. I may be wrong. I do hope there is a kind of pleasure in the process and discoveries that can be made on stage in the moment – an exquisite pain? And, I have to say it isn't easy for me either. Last night I had the sensation that I have seen the work too many times and have lost all connection to the decisions that were made along the way. That's normal. But, tonight I sat in a different place in the audience and was again refreshed. Phew.
Well, in closing I will say thank you JJ, Ben, Rob, Johanna, Lucia, Daniel for inhabiting my personal space and seeking to find the you in it. I will continue to help of course But you're doing a good job already. And it hasn't gone unnoticed.
Well, we have had three shows so far. Houses have been small but enthusiastic. I am now thinking about the benefits of feedback. Which are not always beneficial. I do want to hear what everyone has to say. But I have to remember that art is not made by committee or democracy. It has a a director (or three). So, I have to stay true to my beliefs about this work and not be too swayed by the whims of others. I have to wait for the body shift that tells me when a comment is in line with my feelings and direction and should be investigated and when it should be let go. When its about the taste of the individual saying it and doesn't actually resonate with what I think the direction of the piece is or should be. I guess all I am saying is that its hard to put it out there for judgment but I have asked for it, and so I need to be prepared to hear it. Most of the feedback has been positive and supportive of what we thought was visible in the piece - that's validating. Other feedback has been deeply insightful and needs a few days to process before addressing. Other feedback feels like its coming from personal taste and may not be relevant. Sifting through it all is important. I have to fight my desire to "please" everyone in the room.
A good, old friend of mine was at the show tonight and we talked a bit about a piece of his that he felt was destroyed by his trying to take in too much of the feedback that came to him. It is a fine line between valuable insight from fresh eyes and the personal style of individuals who are creators themselves who may be talking about the piece they would make. Anyway, I don't have anything to brilliant to say about this topic except that it's another challenging step in the process.
We had another dear, old friend in the audience tonight - Woody Vasulka. He always has provocative things to say. One thing he said (as an audience representative) was that we had presented him with a code that is an unbreakable code. And is that fair to do to an audience. To leave them hanging in this unsettling place of knowing there is a code that cannot be decoded. This I will ponder for a few days.
Peter, Mark and I have this feeling that the end of this version is actually the middle of the piece. Perhaps we are making a two hour long piece with an intermission. A first for us. We'll see.
I need to say how I never cease to be amazed by the creative process. One starts somehwere and ends somwhere else. Archeology. You know what you are looking for, but you don't really know what it looks like unitl you see it. On July 23rd we all walked into the theater space with what seemed to be a kind of strait forward idea for a process and were taken into an unexpected labrinth with more personal emotional resonance then I had imagined. Tonight I reflect back on the past four weeks and see all the detours, insights, surprises, mistakes, tangents and know that even though it wasn't a strait line, it was a line that we stayed on and that has gotten us here - to the beginning of the end of the first intensive creative push towards the making of this new work.
I think we got to the end of the piece today. The end for the opening night performance anyway. I had such a sense of satisfaction after the full run in today's rehearsal. I knew it was right. This piece has come together in a kind of mysterious fashion. But, not mysterious in the sense that we all simply worked really hard to find it. The piece feels highly personal - you can ask me why when you see me in person. But, I am happpy about that.
I am so grateful for the creative people in the room with me. For the six dancers, who have suffered the rigor of learning loops from computers day in and day out, who shared their frustrations with some of our vagueness as we searched for the gems in this work and caused fruitful discussions that eventually lead to clarity.
For Peter, the dramaturge (AKA the enforcer) who has pushed me past my usual backing down places, my fear places, helped me to step up to the plate in my own quest for discovery and specificity.
For Mark, who needs to be there for me to feel confident in the work I am doing. And who took moments that I had made that were not quite there and got them there. And whose music and visuals still inspire me. A lot.
For the incredible team of interns who have taken so much of the "other" work required to pull off a performance (advertising, donation of goods and services, design work, wax paper screens, video taping, phone calls, emails, coffee, and on and on).
I know this sounds like a bit of a love fest - but the creative team talked often about how only you can be your own "loop diver" but that others provide the environment for you to do it, to take that risk. Others provided me with that environment, and I dived. Dove.