January 22nd, 2016
Hello from a drizzly and gray Washington, D.C.! My name’s Tenara Calem, and I’m the Assistant Director for Sans Everything, coming to you this February 9th at FringeArts.
This Wednesday, Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor kicked off their first week of rehearsals for the spectacular Sans Everything – an exploration of art, body, voice, instruction, culture, love, violence, and humanity. The singularity, Artificial Intelligence, Shakespeare. Space ships! Stretching out your fingers because it’s the first time you’ve ever had fingers. All the World’s a Stage. In a Fishtown studio, a group of performers and makers gathered to look at where we’re starting from: several iterations of one show that we’re still carving out, with past productions in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Providence, and Boston.
I’m going to talk about the body in today’s blog entry, because we at Sans have been thinking a lot about its function and utility, how it performs, what it performs. The humans on our ship in Sans Everything read a quiet little proposal that perhaps all the world’s a stage, and your body the player. But what if you refuse to perform? What if you boldly reject the assertion that by existing in a body, you are complicit in the grand performance of your life? What if you desperately want to stop the performance and replace it with existence? Exactly how do you go about doing that?
People have been arguing about that for longer than we makers have been in the room devising this play, and so one of our wonderful challenges is to try to create a world in which the body is not performing, but being. In a performance at FringeArts. The camp of humans on the ship who challenge Shakespeare’s assumption explored how to put body as existence first, performance second. And how do you do that if you’ve only just arrived into your human body a day ago? (And how do you do that as a group of performers in front of an audience?)
We ended rehearsal on Friday night at ten o’clock after one such discussion, because now our bodies, the bodies of Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor had a different job to do. We got into our cars and we drove the two and a half hours south to Washington D.C. that night, to attend a rally, a march, and a gathering the following morning on 3rd and Independence. Well, we tried to get to 3rd and Independence, but it turned out that half a million people had the same idea, so we could only get as close in as 7th and Jefferson. The Sans Everything crew – both artistic and space crew – tried on a different use for the body: to be a member of a mass of bodies representing a cause. Estimates are still coming in, and in the new paradigm of tweeted misinformation, this Assistant Director is hesitant to accept statistics from just any which news outlet, but it might be safe to say that close to 3 million people in the United States alone gathered and marched against hate. That’s half a million in D.C., 750,000 in L.A., 250,000 in Chicago, 125,000 in Boston, and 50,000 in our own Philadelphia – among countless other cities across America. In a lot of ways, the devisers of Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor encountered the same fundamental question that the humans on the Sans Everything ship grapple: if all the world’s a stage, and your body is the player, what will your body say?
What we’re reading this week: Reflections of Avant Garde Adaptations, on HowlRound