SCORES THAT SHAPED OUR FRIENDSHIP is an intimate performance exploring the scope of your friendship. What was your desire to make this work?
Pawel: Before the actual work came to place, before we started to work on it, there was a friendship. We met with Lucy in 2017 in another theater production that initiated the beginning of our friendship. There has been a desire just between the two of us as friends to explore the potential of our relationship and also explore intimacy that is beyond the romantic conditioning, where we think intimacy is only reserved for our intimate partners, lovers, spouses, whoever we choose to be intimately, romantically involved with. And we were both also in a phase of curiosity about our bodies. We were hungry for experiences that we have heard of but not experienced. Those were different practices coming from BDSM and kink culture, but also involving a lot of playful ways of being together, adding a lot of embodiment and mindfulness into the movement.
We always worked very intentionally, in all the actions that we would do together. For example for some of the afternoons we build a playground together in the living room, where we set intentions of what we were doing and what we wanted to do. We pulled out tarot cards or read any other plant oracles, so this would be for us a sort of intentional way of spending time together. Only later we talked about, if we’d apply for some funding to explore this creative energy between us in a studio space. We applied with a concept that actually later did not really resonate with us anymore. Therefore we decided to do the piece based on our friendship, as we had so much interesting material and our story as such is very poetic in many ways. Thinking off what we have been through together and how the friendship has evolved. After that we started to observe our friendship from another perspective.
I remember, that for Lucy it was really important to explore the idea of passivity and activity. A disabled person who has less mobility is automatically seen as a passive one. What constitutes an active role? In the end we came to a very simple conclusion, a state of mind that puts you in a certain role, whether your mobility is in the fullest spectrum or if you are restricted in a certain way. That was the foundation and present element in our choreographic research. How do we find a quality of moving that is not about me manipulating Lucy. But to move in a way, that we could actually find a common ground on something that we both fully share. To work on the same eye level felt important. And that was a beautiful challenge for me personally to let go of everything I knew from my dance training and career as a performer working with other physically abled bodies. This was an important point for me to open to new possibilities and to explore the potential of our physicality, for what has been given and what is available. And that went fantastic. We had lots of fun and it was beautiful for Lucy to also explore movement sequences that she never had the chance to do before. I remember that Lucy was sometimes hysterically laughing during rehearsals because her nerve system was so stimulated. There were all these bubbling feelings in the body because it suddenly moved in a way it previously had no chance to move.
How did you develop this piece together and how did you work with Kim Twiddle accompanying you with an eclectic soundtrack?
Kim: the base and idea was already there, and they wanted to have music. I know Lucy from earlier times and we have wanted to work together for a long time. I was also very moved by their idea. I have done collective theater pieces in the free-scene and then have gone more and more to the music production, but as a performer I’m very into the live interpretation of my music. So I’m not so much sitting on my computer and buring it on a CD, I like to perform the music. Of course I also produce music for theater pieces where I’m not on stage and I don’t always have to be, it has to make sense when and why I’m on stage.
In this piece I had the feeling that it was the best decision to play the music live because it’s also fun about what Pawel said about activity and passivity. Often music is consumed passively but it’s very controlling. Like you have the music, but you have to have all the ques exactly on the music because its repetitive all the time. And also for the emotions, you have all the same emotions and expressions and this performance is really pure out of the feeling of the now. All parts are evolving from the movement and intimacy, from Lucy and Pawel meeting each other at the specific day, the meeting can be slow or smooth and on another day more fiery and strong.
With the live music, in this triangle, I can support them from the outer. They have their own ques and tempo, but we are also communicating. It was important while working with Pawel and Lucy that it’s not all about the two of them on stage and their relationship, but also the relationship between them and the other people in the room. There is the interaction with the outer world. I like this way of staging very much. I’m actually together with them in the piece, taken into the circle and being a part of their friendship and their experience. During the rehearsals I learned a lot and took also part in the practices, finding scores and chapters. Participating in the physical research, was a big present for me.
Pawel: It was again a dialogue and as Kim mentioned, Kim joined rehearsals quite fast, maybe after a week or two, and has accompanied us. We worked in a constant dialogue and Kim has been a part of our somatic practices. We also had a workshop around intimacy and sexuality held by a friend of mine, David Bloom who is also a choreographer and an expert in that subject. This also contributed to Kim’s working process and in a way when we have been busy with our bodies, the same exercises have been stimulating Kim to experiment with music. It was very organic. Later towards the end when we had to crystallize the chapters we also thought of the atmospheres we want to create, distinguishing soundscapes.
Kim: The supporting role in Lucy’s and Pawel’s work is important, of course according to the energy on stage. As preparations, we always do some practices before together, by coming together, by coming into a transcendent and also vulnerable and honest situation. Giving the piece as a gift. Not in a way that we have to perform perfectly, we want to be in a real and pure mood to transport the piece. That’s why we do everything to connect between us three before going on stage. During the piece, when we have a physical distance and Lucy and Pawel are on their stage positions, I´m their metaphysical ally, having full focus on them. I literally am with them, noticing every small note of their encounter. Through tones, sounds and rhythm I speak to and with them, partake in, translate and comment on their intimate experiences. That “inside-out eye”-role of mine makes it easier for the audience to feel more in a participant (like me) than in a viewer’s situation.
Pawel: Yes and I would like to add that we always work with what is present in the moment. We are highly sensitive group and we often happen to be full of input coming from all different directions of life. It’s our preparation before the performance to tune in with each other, to find this state and energy where we can sense each other beyond our bodies. This is really important to us and we give a lot of attention to find each other.
Each performance is also for us a celebration and having the opportunity to come together and share this beautiful work with other people. In this state of authenticity and embracing what is present, if there are things going differently during the piece or if there are certain technical issues we embrace them, work with them. For example sometimes Lucy lands in a position where she isn’t comfortable with and she communicates that and we correct it, we don’t try to pretend it’s a flawless work. One of the primary principles is to have the acceptance for that what’s in the present moment, which energy levels in the body are available, so of course it’s a performance that also requires us to deliver something but also it’s really not about creating this toxic pressure and pushing ourselves, its finding the strength through acceptance. It’s a different way to connect to your own power. And we also give a lot of value to the enjoyment of being there. Before every performance we wish each other a good performance, not to do it in an automatic way but putting back again the pleasure of all these things from the playground phase.
You create an intimate, comfortable space also for the audience in close proximity to the performance area. Could you share your idea about the space and set design we are immersing in?
Pawel: At first we really envisioned performing this work in a living room. We wanted to make it as comfortable and cozy for the audience as possible. I see the piece as, well, we are telling a story, like an evening of storytelling. And we wish that those who are listening can relax and be comfortable. That just supports audience receptivity I believe. It’s much nicer to see the performance from a comfortable place than on an uncomfortable theater chair. Also it’s not a frontal piece, we are not performing in one direction, there is more surface where we can come in contact with the audience and favor the created proximity.
This further away perspective in the theater works for other pieces. I think what we wanted was to create an opportunity to have the audience close and be able to look into their eyes and see their faces. Since it was a low budget production, most of the set design we received as a gift, so again, we have been working with what has been available. Same with clothes, we didn’t have the money for costumes so we worked with our own clothes which again fits to the concept of the piece, it’s about us, we are not really wearing any costumes, it’s just us. Kim’s position in the space was also important that there would be a good possibility for connection. I can’t imagine Kim somewhere far away behind the audience, we develop the piece together so it’s really important that Kim is also on the stage with us, in a position that holds and supports us.
Kim: I’m in the audience area, and the guests are also a part of the stage in a way. You said it a few times Pawel that it’s about intimacy and sexuality, a vulnerable picture and a story which is to move the people and let them be a part of the work, it’s important to have them in the inner circle rather than far away. And the performance itself is so detailed, with delicate hand movements and atmosphere that you have to see closely to feel it.