Between April and May 2015 I was invited to my second artist residency with Forwardflux for three weeks of intense collaborative exploration of how neighborhoods are transformed, gentrified, or even colonized. Through meetings once a week with the whole group of participants and more intimate rehearsals with two smaller groups, for the first time I worked as dramaturg of a dance piece, Changing Neighborhoods. For the exhibition program, click here.
“What is there in the empty space of the role? […] You have to discover material for the role and organize the scenes in pauses, between phrases, between the lines and even between words.”
Jurij Alschitz, 40 Questions of One Role
Cherry Blossoms was developed for the May 2013 Forward Flux collaborate:create “Power of Silence” 3-week residency at Theaterlab. For more info click here. With Rebecca Tucker and Kelly Sloan.
I see silence as the zero-point energy of theatre, the point where everything can be created from nothing. How can a short scene expand – and to what extent – into a longer piece, and at what distance lines and fragments of the text can still cohere or instead become other?
To attempt a response to this question, in “Cherry Blossoms” I explored the silence between lines and words, as a place for events to occur in the absence of speech.
The actors and I devised three versions of the same brief dialogue from the first act of Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. Two sisters, Anya and Varya, reunite after one of them has been on a long trip. The different lengths of these versions – about 1, 3, and 5 minutes – depend on how the silence in the interstices of the text is either ignored or allowed to blossom.
Verminous game, thou art caught! Ensnared as a loathsome bug stuck in the great spider’s silken strands.
Jason Sofge, The Tortured One
The Tortured One was developed for the May 2013 Forward Flux collaborate:create “Power of Silence” 3-week residency at Theaterlab. For more info click here. With David Riley and Joyana Feller.
As we struck up a conversation on our first creative meeting, Jason Sofge had an idea for a character to be able to use silence as a weapon. In this harsh power struggle, one character would always speak, while the other would remain silent throughout.
In addition to the peculiar disproportion in the dialogue, the final text provided a fascinating directorial challenge: how to stage a piece in which, due to the extreme violence described in detail in the text, what occurs can hardly be shown on stage in a realistic fashion? With the freedom we were given to explore by the playwright, the actors and I discovered an uncanny territory of ambiguity between the heightened language of the piece and an everyday situation around a tea table.