I've been quiet, yes, but it doesn't mean I haven't been busy!
After spending 1 year and 4 months in London (during which time I completed my MA Degree at the University of Roehampton, worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum's Theatre and Performance Department, and collaborated and performed on the side with local artists and groups), I finally flew back to Manila last February 2018. I admit that for the past 7 months, my homecoming has been quite rough. Certain things did not go according to plan since I arrived back home, and so some projects had to be dropped due to, well, irreconcilable differences. And as someone who is usually very keen at getting projects to continue, whether by hook or by crook, it was truly a tough pill for me to swallow when I realized that certain works are just not meant to happen (or at least, not meant to happen by me).
But on the other hand, there have been other projects that surprisingly stuck on-- and with such beautiful development and journey too! One such project is Somewhere Else Instead, an odd, peculiar piece I am producing and developing through my company Langgam Performance Troupe (recently revamped since my return. More on LPT later!)
Somewhere Else Instead (taken from a line of A.A. Milne’s poem, “Halfway Down”) is a movement piece that centers around the image, utility, and metaphorical significance of the staircase. Combining methods and exercises from site-specific theater, physical theater, durational performance, improvisation, conceptual and live installation art, this performance project conducts and incites an ensemble of five performers into an investigative process that uncovers the relevance, impact, and influence of the stairs from the architectural to the metaphysical.
Part of this investigative process is to engage the ensemble into “12 site-specific rehearsals”, which comprises the project's Research and Development Phase. This means that for each rehearsal, they are brought to different staircase locations (each varying in shape and size) where the performers are being challenged to perform durational, improvisational exercises according to: 1) the type of stairs being offered to them; and 2) the textual prompt that will inform their improv exercises (the textual prompt comes in a form of a poem about stairs).
After the 12 site-specific rehearsals are completed, the notes accumulated during the R&D Phase will be processed in order to determine the design and construction of the final 13th staircase-- which now marks the project's Phase Two. To be specific, during Phase Two, the performers will be asked to design and build their own staircase(s) together, as well as devise the 13th performance, based on the notes recorded during the 12 sessions.
Teaser Trailer of the R&D Phase
On a Personal, Non-Academic Note:
This project absolutely frightened me in the beginning because it started out with so many abstract and vague ideas, so many nagging questions about its direction and outcome, that we were all just very uncertain as to how exactly it will develop or look like in the end. Will it work? Will it succeed? Will it fail and fall flat spectacularly? For those of us who are used to working in artistic collaborations that are very outcome-based, process-based works such as Somewhere Else Instead can be very unnerving and intimidating. Oftentimes, if you are the impatient type, it makes you question and become cynical with its entire purpose.
But I suppose that is the whole point of Somewhere Else Instead, and it is something that I insisted right from the start: to let it remain as an elusive and ephemeral journey, and to resist the idea of predetermined outcomes. Allow (and trust) that the process will unfold and reveal itself. Committing to the process is already enough on its own.
The ensemble of Somewhere Else Instead. Clockwise from top: Joel Garcia, J.A. Sarmogenes, Opaline Santos, Jacq-Nacu Garcia, & Diana Aviado.
My collaborators are, needless to say, amazing, intelligent, and just a lovely group of risk-takers. They manage to surprise and exceed expectations with each and every session. As we are proceeding towards our 6th site-specific rehearsal (our halfway mark) I can only assume that it will only get even more riveting.