Thursday, 28 July 2016

Dramaturgy in Red: Carl Knif @ Edfringe 2016

Dance Base (Venue 22) ​
Aug 5-7, 9-14, 16-21 9.00pm

Credit: Yoshi Omori
In our everyday lives we often dance on a knife-edge. Carl Knif's solo Red is an intimate portrait of an individual struggling with an inner red alert. The performance is about extremes. You could call them emergencies of emotion. At times, it’s about life and death but mostly about life. This performance is a map. Knif has taken a red marker pen and pointed out moments in his life that have felt really meaningful, or the opposite, lost all their meaning. These moments are not always dramatic. Above all, the colour Red symbolises willpower, authority and courage.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I thought that the colour as the starting point for a performance would give me great freedom and countless possibilities for exploring and researching. Although this is true, during the process I noticed, to my surprise, that the colour also challenges, steers and draws guidelines. So I’ve travelled from the original idea, an architectonic space with abstract movement and explicit lighting, towards personal themes, a private space, far back to a time of memories and experiences.
The performance is about extremes. You could call them emergencies of emotion. At times, it’s about life and death, but mostly about life. I look at this performance as a map. I’ve taken a red marker pen and pointed out some moments in my life that have felt really meaningful, or the opposite, lost all meaning. These moments are not always dramatic. Sometimes I feel that we in our everyday lives always dance on a knife’s edge. Above all, the red colour symbolizes willpower, authority and courage. And this is why I, in this piece, want to bring up themes that feel sore.
How did you become interested in making performance?
The inspiration for this piece was my own experiences of becoming myself. My struggle with depression. My view points on coming out as a homosexual and the fear of loneliness as well as the relationship to my parents. These were the themes I wanted to explore.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
The design team behind the performance are all people that I have worked with multiple times prior to this project. I tend to work a lot with people that I know from before. This time it seemed especially important as the piece was going to be very personal.

red-dramaturgy database-fringeWas your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
The process was somewhat different from the way I usually work. I tend to prepare materials before the rehearsal period when I work with a group of dancers. Now it was only me in the studio, so the starting points were many and quite vague in the beginning. Also the themes of the piece became clear to me in the midst of the rehearsal period. Originally I was going to make an abstract piece, but soon I realized that the story I wanted to tell needed words. I had never written anything for stage before neither had I spoken on stage. The decision to use text was not a simple one to make, I came to the conclusion that if I could integrate the text into the dancing to the extent that it becomes choreography, then I would speak. This solo was a milestone for me as a choreographer. I have used text many times after this and last spring I directed a play, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis for the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki. Red was also the first piece in a series of works in which I’ve investigated personal themes. In 2014 I created Friends of Dymphna, an opera about depression and next fall my company will premiere a new duet with the title The Emotional Life of A Dog, what my father said. This is a piece that investigates the often complex relationship between fathers and sons.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope the audience will experience things in the piece that they can relate to. Although the piece is highly personal I think that the themes are universal and can be identified by anyone who has ever thought about their own personal history and how it comes that they feel, behave and react to social situations the way that they do.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
We wanted the piece to be intimate. I wanted the text to be straight on but still poetical.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
Because the piece is autobiographical I guess you could say that it is typical for its time. I have been influenced by the Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgård and the Finnish play writers Milja Sarkola who use highly personal and intimate experiences in their works. I would say Red is dance theatre with a twist.

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