Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Pitch Dramaturgy: Skye Reynolds and Jo Fong @ Edfringe 2016

Performed by Skye Reynolds, made in collaboration with Jo Fong
17th- 21st August, Dance Base Venue 22
A double bill with A:Version by Indepen-Dance

Pitch is a realisation: how are we living our lives? The act of selling oneself, selling an idea. One woman: a provocation. Trying, winning, failing… however ridiculous, something has to change. Maybe the world? Do something! Pitch is fresh, funny, honest dance theatre.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I wanted to explore the concept of pitching - selling oneself or selling ideas… 

Having gone through that process to promote creative ideas for development, I found it challenging to present this particular ‘face’ – something artificial about it, almost painful! How to fit 'myself' into the 'sell'...what am I selling, what is of value? Then I stared thinking ‘How are we living our lives?’ How am I living MY life?

 Inspired by people and artists who make powerful, funny, insightful work, especially in this time of global turmoil, I wanted Stand Up, take responsibility. Then the question was how to turn these ideas into performance!
credit: Lucas Kao
I really wanted to work with Jo Fong, I love her work and I decided to create my first a solo - a woman coming of age at 44… 

Standing up – get my act together. But actually getting Skye’s Act together.

For me – its about coming to an age where I have opinions and for some reason I haven’t not put them into the world. I vote but I suppose on some level I find it difficult to stand up and say what I think. To do something that implicates positive change. Somehow through the making it has also been revealed how powerful we are as individuals but also how powerless and futile the act of standing by what you believe can be.

The idea that things can be better and to make a work that could actually implicate change.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
Jo and I met performing in Wendy Houston's Stupid Women and after that I was a Guest in Jo’s show An Invitation. I wanted to work further and dig more deeply into Jo’s process so I asked if she would mentor me to create a solo. 

We began with a couple of research weeks supported by Creative Scotland and Dance Base, not knowing what would come. We had a great time and discovered PITCH, a work that we believe in and have enjoyed creating so we are continuing to develop it together. Other team members gathered en route. 

Lucas Kao, filmmaker and photographer, has captured some lovely visuals and we share an aesthetic sense of humour. Sarah Buckmaster is creating lights (we met at Yorkshire Dance, when PITCH was presented as work-in-progress) and Anna Cocciadiferro made the costume. My daughter Lula makes an appearance on vocals whilst practising the piano…and I’ve been talking with producers about future possibilities. 

We met doing a show by Wendy Houstoun for Yorkshire Dance’s Juncture Festival and then again through my work An Invitation…
where Skye played a guest role. 

I think Skye was somehow interested in my work and how working more together would help her to grow this new solo.

How did you become interested in making performance?
Things clicked for me in Sydney in the 90’s when I discovered experimental dance – performing in drag acts, jazz improv, art galleries, night clubs, site-specific. 

It was thrilling, I decided this was what I wanted to do and traded in a law degree. I loved the creativity, the complicity, the people. Performance is like an act of heightened reality that requires a focused thinking and an honesty that I find transformative.

For me, it’s about having a voice, after years of being “just a dancer” a clay for someone else to create with. Reaching the age of 29 / 30, suddenly it was time to start working out what I think and how to articulate this to audiences. 

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
This was a new process for me, and my first solo. Using spoken word with movement, humour, a ‘live’ conversational style – I’ve been exploring these approaches to find a voice with my own work and within that of different choreographers over the past few years. 
Jo and I have discovered and created this piece en route. It’s about truth, made from authentic life material. 

The performance has to be alive and fresh, I'm addressing the audience, playing the score. It’s a real challenge to both ‘play’ and ‘be’ myself. I’m still working that out, uncovering layers and finding textures - how to make a ‘dance action’ within a performance frame?

My process always changes with each show I make and in addition of course with each new collaboration. Skye and I have had fun making this show, I tried to lay out improvised experiences from which to draw material. Tried to support her in what is not an easy task. We discussed what we think about how we could create an artwork that is also an action. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope the audience will feel a sense of connection with the performer, recognise moments within themes and material –trying, winning and failing. Can the work provoke thoughts about action, positive change? I feel there is a currency right now in terms of the search for values and place, it’s something we are sharing as a society and beyond. PITCH looks at this – How are we living our lives – it’s a question we are exploring.

Jo - Through the pilot showings we’ve had at Dance Base and Yorkshire Dance, people have noted how they have enjoyed the show, been touched, laughed and literally end up thinking about how they personally could change or do something to make the world a better place for everyone. 

What strategies did we consider towards shaping the audiences experience?
We wanted to present the work in a conversational frame, it’s live and it’s happening right now. It intentionally exposes the vulnerability of the performer as she explores how to ‘Be,’ taking confusing, impossible aspects of human existence and opening them up to the possibility of connection and laughter. 

We want to raise issues that we think are important, both individually and collectively. The audience are not asked to do anything but there is space in the show for reflection and perhaps the feeling of shared possibility for action.

Jo –
I suppose audience interaction is a big part of the work. Not that we ask an audience to actually do anything but the way the show is set up gives the idea that audiences feel very much a part of the show. Its funny, Skye does an amazing job of lightening the space almost the idea that anything could happen, she’s like a politically informed cartoon talent show optimist.

I suppose a super uber ambitious aim has been to influence audience members so that they actually start to think about what it is they could do. What action in their own lives either small or large would they be able to initiate towards positive change. 
We’ve been thinking about the end of the show a moment where it shifts from the personal to the collective and we hope to try out different endings. I’m interested in a promise, a pledge or even just a consideration, but maybe if I’m honest what I’d really like is through the humour and the seriousness of the show that there is a resurge of energy and hope. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
New Scottish work!

Over the past few years I've been influenced by dance work that uses direct address, is multi-artform, humourous, ironic, approaches performance-making in new ways, addresses contemporary personal and politic themes. Communicates on different levels. 

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