Friday, June 6, 2008

More SomerVaudeVille Video from Geek Force Five

Chris Clark of Geek Force Five has put together an eight-minute and one-second video featuring a sampling of the acts that appeared at Theatre@First's production of SomerVaudeVille. An excerpt from my piece, "The Marmalope" starts about 4:40 into the video:

If you have seen Shelly MacAskill's video of the same piece, it is interesting to note how different camera angles create a very different effect when filming mime or dance, though as I stated in my previous entry, it is a matter of translating a three-dimensional art form (four-dimensional if one counts time as a dimension) into a two-(or three)-dimensional medium. The segment that Clark captured is certainly choreographed to be seen from the front of the stage as opposed to the side, while I think the earlier sequence when my legs, arms and torso are bent into a sculptural form for the marmalope (played by my right hand) to run about, works very nicely from the angle that MacAskill presented in her video.

Of course, this leaves me to wonder just how many people were taping the performance?

Also appearing in the video are Can Can Revolution, Uncle Shoe, Heisenberg's Mezzos, Justin Werfel, Gilana and her Hula Hips, and The Pluto Tapes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mime at SomerVaudeVille

Shelly MacAskill posted this video of my performance of "The Marmalope" at SomerVaudeVille to YouTube, with master of ceremonies, Rob Noyes giving introductions:

It's sometimes hard to translate the three-dimensional experience of a live performance into the two-dimensional experience of video, but it worked well. "The Marmalope" has been part of my repertoire for years but the experience of rehearsing the piece for SomerVaudeville over a couple of months allowed me to further refine it from its most basic idea. "The Marmalope" received its name sometime in the early months of 2005, when Jonathan Samson, while playing Il Dottore at the Svengali Cabaret was asked to identify my species, where upon he said "that is a marmalope." By the following week, an audience member had identified the creature played by my right hand as "a baby marmalope." My right hand has grown up since then.

One thing that made this performance special, is that I realized I had acheived a certain level of mastery in that in at a particular moment, the audience's sympathies were not projected on me personally, or on a character I was playing, but on a character played by my right hand even as the rest of my body was playing a character not particularly deserving of sympathy. No amount of technique can create that.

Ironically, the night following the performance in which I had achieved this small degree of mastery, I was in rehearsals for Chhandika's annual student concert and I was again a novice, albeit a sleep deprived novice. Though the similarities to mime are what attracted me to kathak, kathak is not mime.

Rif, a pianist with a very impressive display of facial hair, was kind enough to take these photographs of the "The Marmalope" from a somewhat different vantage point than that shown in the video.

As a bonus, Kitty Fox of Can Can Revolution and I staged a very brief skit to accompany Uncle Shoe's rendition of "Mistah Moonshine", a hit from 1912 by Charles S. Burnham and Adam Breede:

The moon was Shoe's idea-- I drew my inspiration from Jean-Louis Barrault's Jean-Gaspard "Baptiste" Deburau in Les Enfants du Paradis.

There are also photos of me hanging out backstage with the lovely Can Can Revolutionaries.

After the show, outside Johnny D's, my make-up not quite off yet:

Monday, June 2, 2008

What a Month It's Been!

Between May 1st and June 1st, I've perfomed in four different shows with four different groups, in four different idioms all while continuing the revision and development process on my play. I hope to find time to reflect on all of this activity over the next several days.

On May 1st, I played Arlecchino with i Sebastiani in our production of Il Formaggio di Amore which was my first time also playing a more hands on role as choreographer (which in this troupe is more about fascilitating the design of physical gags.) We already in rehearsal for its quasi-sequel, Il Formaggio di Terrore about which more is forthcoming.

This was followed on May 19th with the reunion of my old group, Cosmic Spelunker Theater. There's even a video on YouTube.

On May 28th, I performed mime as part of SomerVaudeVille, a show produced at Johnny D's by Theatre@First, and found it to be an artistic success, in that I had a brief feeling of mastery when I realized that I had taken my audience's sympathy and isolated it into my right hand. No amount of training I had received could have prepared me for that. I have a follow-up accunt planned very shortly.

Less than 24 hours after my feelings of mastery as a mime, I relearned humility, when after a day at work with too little sleep, I attended a rehearsal for Chhandika's annual student show. Since October of 2006, I have been studying kathak, the classical dance form of Northern India at Chhandika and June 1st was my premiere as a kathak dancer. Somehow I relished going from mastery of one art form to novicehood in another and learned something about both art forms from that experience.