One-hour long performances series in collaboration with improvisational comedians.
In general in improv comedy they use words as prompts for their scenes. These are random words given by the audience. For my project “Scene”, instead of words I gave objects, videos and different stories of mine as prompts for the improvised scenes. These prompts were “leitmotifs” and are recurring symbols in my work. I wanted to explore the other possibilities that these symbols could have.
In “Scene” (2019 - 2020), the performance took place at my former studio and involved the participation of six performers and a small audience. The score was divided into four sections: in the first one the improvisers were provided with objects as prompts for their scenes, in the second, with videos, and in the third, with short monologues. The fourth section consisted of an open conversation around the themes presented between everyone involved.
As mentioned, the selected prompts were recurring symbols in my practice. Leitmotifs, metaphors I always find myself going back to: an Earth looking stress relief ball, a joker card, bubbles, to name a few. In the videos, excerpts of past work appear: Tuning II (2019), where I am tuning the cello in an elevator in constant preparation for a performance that never takes place, and Kneading (2019) where a hand is kneading an elbow. In the monologues, reflections and visual stories around themes such as impotence, the uncanny, pointlessness, idleness, vulnerability, empathy, emptiness and resonance, were shared and performed by myself. I wanted to explore the other possibilities these symbols could have (the other narratives, perspectives, interpretations and points of view that existed around them) and to generate a safe, intimate place for curiosity, imagination, reflection, dialogue and play.
In the second section of the performances, the videos were projected on the back wall and continued playing while the comedians were performing. There is a kind of random, almost surreal quality that starts to happen because of the disconnect of the video that is being projected and the scene that occurs. This created another layer of meaning and time in the same space.
In the third section, while the performers were doing their scenes, I was doing what I call “visual improv”. Activating the projected screen of my laptop with GIFs, videos and notes, commenting on their scenes and participating as another member of the improv team. Pulling up windows, and improvising a desktop performance as a live rabbit whole of connections and associations. There is an aesthetic of overload: there is a lot happening and it's almost impossible to take in.
The fourth and last section of the performance was a conversation with everyone involved (performers, audience and myself). Everything that happened until that point was, for me, a prompt for that conversation to happen. This section is crucial and part of the work. I wanted the dialogue to inspire reflection and to be a space to share experiences and thoughts. I think in general in visual arts, the experience with art is very individualistic, in comparison with theater or music where there is a more collective experience. I was interested in creating a collective yet personal experience by inviting a small audience, keeping a more intimate scale. This moment was also a space for feedback and conversation about the work, that that rarely happens.
There were some conditions that blurred the line between performer and audience, which gave a hint that this was a composition that unfolded with time, and that the world building occurring on the scenes were really a collaborative effort between everyone involved.
In general in improv comedy, there are chairs provided for the improvisers to use for their scenes. These chairs are on the stage already, and they are the only objects that can be used for their scenes. In my performance, the chairs were provided only for the audience and the performers were directed to address the audience individually to ask for them for chairs when needed for their scenes.
The other condition or rule given to the performers was to ask questions to the audience, address them directly and individually. To involve the audience to the conversation and to the building of the scenes.