Music has also been a scenic event for a long time. In the nineteenth century people still enjoyed music also with their eyes, with all their senses. Only with the increasing dominance of the mechanic reproduction of music, through broadcasting and records, was this reduced to the purely acoustic dimension. What I want is to bring the audience back to an enjoyment of music with all senses. That’s why my music is a direct, exaggerated protest against the mechanical reproduction of music. My goal: a rehumanization of music-making!
---Mauricio Kagel (1970)
The workshopping is proceeding well. Quite amusing. Free Theatre is working on a diversity of Kagel pieces with a few favorites starting to emerge. Gao Ping has sent through 5 pieces for the ensemble of musicians in different combinations and there are 2-3 pieces he will play by himself with vocalizations in between. We had a Skype conversation with Hamish McKeich this evening and made plans for intensive period coming up. While we were talking the troupe rehearsed Kagel's 'Kontra Danse'. The movements really started to come to life with the addition of objects: a bicycle tyre, a bucket, a mannequin, a bike wheel, a toaster.
On Saturday we held a 3 hr public Instrumental Theatre workshop inspired in particular by Kagel's Spielplan (1970). Participants constructed instruments out of obsolete materials. Here's where we were at mid-construction.
"If it is true that contemporary theatre and performance in general - not just within Composed Theatre - challenges the separation of the art forms that had taken place in the second half of the eighteenth century, somehow recalling or bringing forward an integrated concept of theatre, then this should also lead to changes in an educational system in which interdisciplinary courses are still very rare" - 'Composed Theatre', Matthias Rebstock, 2012
In Kontra Danse, Kagel makes a choreography based on the classical ballet that calls explicitly for “non-dancers”. We’ve all done a lot of physical theatre training, exploring dance forms in a theatrical context for previous works [see Distraction Camp - 2009]. But we are physical theatre performers, not dancers. Kagel calls for the performers to be absolutely serious (this is not to be played for laughs) in their work towards achieving the form he requires. We are working on the ballet positions, port de bras, plies, pirouettes. The idea is to find a vocabulary of movement that can be assembled in various ways, later, with the musicians.
Workshopping for The Mauricio Kagel Project has been exciting with a number of discoveries being made in relation to how music performance can playfully challenge audience expectations. This is going to be lots of fun - it is possible to see some parallels with our experiences in the Ubu Nights. But this really is something completely new.
At the same time, in Chengdu (Sichuan), Gao Ping is developing work that engages with classical Chinese instruments and musical traditions - we're catching up with him next week. The aim is for this project to develop an ongoing "composed theatre" collaboration that takes us in new directions:
"The assumption is that, since the sixties, a field of artistic practice has arisen that is situated between the more classical conceptions - and institutions - of music, theatre and dance, and that is highly characterised and unified by making use of compositional strategies and techniques and, in a broader sense, by the application of compositional thinking".
'Composed Theatre: Mapping the Field', Matthias Rebstock, 2012
Image: from 'Tantz-Schul' Ballet d'action