Tuesday, 16 June 2009

And now for Something Completely Different...

How extraordinary. Amidst all the Spoken/Written mayhem...and after a successful evening at the Queen's Theatre having a stall for Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W. - really big thanks to Mel Scaffold of Apples and Snakes S.W. ! - and then other things, I had had to go out too many evenings in a row, and was wondering if I could stay awake for another one...when I turned up, feeling like nothing so much as an early night... And to my amazement, was soon caught up in an inspirational experience. The idea of the evening - called the Edge of Chaos, and held in the Voodoo Lounge of the Phoenix, by Ric White, who has put these events on before in Lancaster - was to get musicians, painters, dancers and a poet (yours truly) to all improvise and respond to each other spontaneously. I had no idea, and nor did anyone else, how or indeed whether, it would 'work', but the key thing was that we all came to it with a sense of openness. 
   The music began, with synth and iPhone (the latter as played by Sufiboy of the Collective), and then entwined with the spontaneous production or evolving of a painting by Ric's collaborator in Edges of Chaos...and then we all took it from there. The dancers were brilliant, and I was soon caught up in movement and sound and brushstrokes, I wrote words and sentences, sometimes more connected than at other times, as they came up on the projector in my not-wonderful but still legible handwriting! The music started hypnotic, then went jazz, experimental, John Cage-esque, the dancers swung between grace and jerkiness, flowing together or separate moving, beginning on the floor, and ending in wheels...I picked up the mic and rather than speak, began with sounds - hisses, whistles (not the kind that hurt the ears!), and was astonished that it all seemed to work. Breath like storms or gales, and whirling dance, or words and colours...everything seemed to merge and exchange. When I spoke, I tried to mirror the dancers, painters and music, but abstractly. Shadows in purple or curves and arcs... At the end of the first half - a natural end, I was exhilarated and feeling that never having been able to tell the difference between the word/image/movement/sound (and in extreme cases the thought, and their past!) was somehow justified. I had been wanting to do something like this for too long. 
   The second half, and the painters took off - amazing blues on one side, and on the other the painter/poet Robert Joyce turning the canvas over, from subtle greys and textures to the four quarters of the wooden frame, proceeding to rip parts out and stick them back on...the drummer saw the palette knife coming out towards him as he said afterward, and attacked the canvas, shoving an incredibly loud rain drum instrument through a canvas panel...the other painter banged his palette knife or brushes on a table in response...a dancer shouted my words, and afterwards said he could see the words between the gaps in the torn canvas! And altogether, I felt we teetered on the edge of chaos...before drawing back, and to a close. It seemed unreal - just as hissing or whispering to that music with the dancing and painting feeling like it was taking up themes that I was impelled to describe, to drawing symbols and numbers and lines in place or together with words, and then hardly believing a dancer was tracing a spiral in response to my spiral, becoming no longer mine but theirs...
   I must stop there! but I did lose myself in a way that I had hoped to, but had not really thought likely or realistic. Met some brilliant artists of 'other' disciplines, and we all thanked each other, and thanked Ric for putting it all together. A mind-blowing evening. Rounded off by a drink in the cafe bar afterwards with Sufiboy and Robert Joyce and two of the dancers. What a remarkable evening. It called on what I can only describe as the emotive part of the intellect that one must, for want of all other words, call the spiritual. And I even got to keep the acetates...
   Huge thanks must go to Ric, to all the other artists, including Sufiboy, and Robert Joyce including for the drinks! 

   And finally the person who codified my interest and passion for cross-artform in the first place, one Wassily Kandinsky. 

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