07 May 2008


Next week I'll be performing a show twice daily down at the World Financial Center, under the auspices of The Women's Project. The show is called Corporate Carnival, and is much as it sounds -- a sort of carnival (though more circus) celebration (though more satire) of corporate America (though more capitalist America at large). It will be performing in the "Winter Garden" section, May 14 - 16, showtimes at 1:00 and 7:00, and the 15th thrice, the previous times plus a 4:00. We earn our money over there at The Women's Project, fo' sho'.

The show itself is interesting to me for a return to collaborative creation and my status within it. I'm one of a sort of inconsequential chorus called "The Temps." We burst through between main acts with commercial-like interruptions, and supplement the other actors' "scenes." We're also on stage even when we're "backstage," owing to the nature of our staging the show in an open area, and we're all responsible for developing a "greenshow" act. Greenshow acts are sort of a roving warm-up before the main stage begins, especially useful in this format because they get people's attention by adhering to a busking style. So we're doing all that (see above "fo' sho'"), but our additions to the show itself are not necessarily especially skilled. I'm stilting for one commercial, but for the most part the Temps' contributions aren't particularly physically demanding. In spite of the many circumstantial similarities between this project and the work of Cirque Boom and Kirkos (particularly Cirque Boom's Circus of Vices and Virtues, in which I played a stilt-walking businessman), they're very different in that regard.

I've had to create a lot of self-generated output recently. So much, in fact, that today I began to worry for the first time if I wasn't just recycling and regurgitating. This is due in part to hammering out an outline for a potential performance piece (pah pah pah) for Italy, under the auspices of Zuppa del Giorno. I took the three archetypal clowns we portrayed in Silent Lives, and bits and sequences from all our shows (Zuppa-related or no), added a dash of some of my favorite stage conventions and voilĂ ! A . . . show! Of sorts! I kind of hate it! But the idea is that we'll all get into a room together soon (somehow) and develop it, or something that doesn't resemble it in the slightest. Not sure which one I'm hoping for at this point.

Sludging through this effort reminded me of working on my clown film (see 3/27/08), in that I was writing out actions more than words, trying to tell a story through humorous, true deeds and bits. It was also reminiscent of the film in that I was frequently stuck, trying to figure out how to go on from a given point, and I've been feeling pretty stuck on the film script as well. It seems that once Our Hero (this is what I've been calling the clown character in the script) gets out of Central Park, I have very little direction for him. And now, after a couple of weeks of contributing to generate original scenes for Corporate Carnival, I have to develop a greenshow act for it, and I'm drawing blank. It's a little like I've run out of gas. Cough! Cough! Sputtterrrrr . . .

Yet on Sunday (see 5/5/08), with eager and communicative collaborators, the ideas were flowing like gasoline in the 1990s. Perhaps what I need to do is engage in dialogue with someone who is inclined to be energetic about this kind of thing. Perhaps, too, I need to just get out of my mind and into my body. That was definitely a key element in Sunday's successful creation. This block may be entirely symptomatic, in fact, of a period of relative creative isolation of late. I started writing the clown film when I was between day jobs, and there were no theatre commitments, and very little energy on my part going into find them. At the time I viewed my individual effort as reclaiming a little of my work for myself (as part of my process of dealing with letting go of As Far As We Know [see 1/15/08]), and so it was. Yet it was also a retreat.

That's the nice thing about work. As long as you're doing it, you're working.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I can relate to so much here, Dear Jeff, which I'm sure comes as no surprise to you. The last three entries, really. When that's all I have to say in a comment, I usually don't bother, but given the isolation feeling, I thought I'd pipe up this time. Generating work to keep ourselves busy, to gain a sense of autonomy, to help heal after an exploitative (my word, not yours, but in your case I stand by it) experience, these are all good things. That sense of recycling one's old bits, I know it well. But as a way of providing a jumping off point, I think it's great. I always work better when there is some kind of structure to respond to, even if it's jut pushing against it. You may recall that when faced with a completely blank slate, I usually start with the rule of 3s, just to have some kind of foundation. It may all be gone in half an hour, but if so, it's usually because it's been replaced by something better.

I'm feeling the need -and more importantly, the ability- to get physical again too. Keep us posted on your progress there.