You can get a more in-depth look at this process and performance at the Callous Physical Theatre website here:
When I boarded the plane in Pocatello, Idaho bound for Tallahassee, Florida, I was not sure exactly what to expect. I was heading toward three people who I had worked with in person for many years and greatly enjoyed the experience, and three people who I had connected with during the course of the year-long project via google hangouts and hoped I would enjoy collaborating with.
I had originally joined this iteration of Laptop Performance Laboratory: modular play for several reasons. It gave me a chance to work with people who had moved away and stay connected to them. It gave me a chance to continue the explorations I had been a part of in the Global Corporeality and Laptop Performance Laboratory: bridges projects. I looked forward to meeting new people and expanding my artistic connections once more beyond Idaho. It gave me a chance to return to a type of project I had began as a student after working and traveling as an independent artist, and see how that changed and informed the experience.
I went into the project without specific goals, but I did want to make sure I was productively and actively contributing to whatever the end result of the three weeks would be. I learned that even if I was unsure on where everything would go and how it would all work together, starting somewhere, no matter how small, was a way to enter into the work. (It was also necessary to be comfortable with the idea that suggestions and work may end up being discarded, and to make peace with that possibility.) The framework of the seven significant words helped a great deal in finding and scaffolding an entry point.
The days were long, and could be challenging. I discovered that while when working alone, I enjoy setting my own schedule and having a great deal of flexibility, when working with a group of people I felt much better once there was a set structure and schedule, it helped to have some expectations of what any given day would hold. I was expecting the work to be mentally and physically tiring, but found the emotional exhaustion to be a bit of a surprise. Looking back, I can see that it was the result of dealing with the conflicts that came up because of everyone being invested in the work. Conflict and tension have always been difficult for me to deal with, but at the base there was a deep respect between everyone involved and I soon realized that even if we were embroiled in a rough patch, with a bit of time and space everything ended up working out. I felt immensely lucky as well to be working with supportive people who deeply understood the need for occasional solitude, as well as a strong support system back at home. (It was a bit amusing to be using those same technological tools that had facilitated this project to help connect with family and keep on an even emotional keel during the residency.)
I was surprised to find some resistance in myself to the whole collaborative process, as well as taking direction as we were working on the performance side of things. It was an adjustment after several years of doing solo work and creating as a director that I had not anticipated having to make. I will always enjoy the independence and freedom of being a freelance artist, but this reminded me of the messy, complicated joy of community.
This project reconfirmed for me that I find something very satisfying in deeply and intensely diving into one project for a very focused burst of time, and has prodded me to explore artist residencies and other possibilities for pursuing work in this way. I have become more interested in visual art in the past several years, and I found the creation of a large installation and incorporation of it into a performance to be something that I definitely want to think about pursuing further.
The previous year has been a very upsetting one for me, and this opportunity to focus on creating so intensely was very cathartic, and I carried that with me after I got home. It was a reminder that even in times of upheaval, it is important to dive in and do the work of creating.