Between the Song and the Silence: A Bird in the Hand ...
The past month has flown by in a blur! I have been working on planning the dialogue and blocking for Between the Song and the Silence, as well as preparing and installing a solo exhibition, Souvenir/Souvenir, at the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Cultural Centre in Montréal.
I’ve been drowning in words – imaginary conversations between my vocalists. I need to get these down as they will convey the timbre and feel of their interaction. I write them longhand, as somehow that seems to give the conversation a more natural flow and ebb. Sometimes, I say the dialogue aloud – self-dictation – and write down the adjectives that describe the way in which I converse with myself. I find myself cataloging adjectives: thoughtfully, angrily, coquettishly, emphatically, playfully, tentatively, sadly, puckishly, concernedly, and all the other -lys that seem possible.
The text is not written to be performed as dialogue in a script. I write it as a stream-of-consciousness arrangement, the phrases representing emotional notation. It’s not what is said, but how it is said that’s important.
In between the words, I have been working on blocking out the action. I have been trying to figure out how to convey the timing to the performers. I need to get them working in sequences of events. It’s a domino effect, and the timing is key. I had been discussing how to get my amateurs working comfortably together, and how to cue them. To that end, I decided I needed to get out and about with some local birdwatchers again. I wanted to watch them birding and working with their equipment, to refresh my memory of how they move together as a group.
Again, I was struck by the amount of paraphernalia that can be involved. Some of it low-tech - notebooks, dog eared copies of birding references- and I noticed that binoculars and smart phones were ubiquitous.
Hmmm …. Notebooks could certainly contain ample crib notes and a script – the audience would be none the wiser. It could map out where everyone is to be on stage, and where their next move would be. I watched people multitask: scanning with binoculars, flipping through their books, and fingers racing around their smartphones and tablets. “Pierre says we need to go further west along the river”, said a text to the group. And as a group, we all moved further west and ranged ourselves along the shoreline.
Then it hit me – on all my birding excursions, people had been using their smartphones to text sighting locations and instructions. It was silent, didn’t disturb the birds and other creatures, and conveyed accurate information in real time. We were all familiar and more importantly, comfortable with texting.
Now I’m experimenting with text instructions. They need be very simple one or two word instructions to the performers. I’m hoping that I can text the performer I need to initiate the action, and like proverbial dominos the others will complete their actions. When comes time for the next event, I would text the performer required.
Paranoid as I am about technology, I checked with the venue to ensure that cell phones work in the theatre, which they do (note to self – make sure that there is a notice to the audience to turn their phones off!).
I have an experiment planned for the next birding excursion in a week’s time with a few volunteer birders to see how well it works in practice. At the risk of badly mangling a cliché, let’s hope the bird in the hand can corral a few in the bush!
I've been drowning in words ...