So, Term 3 has been all about SIP with a hint of options. Yep, you head it right… SIP. A fun little name for a colossal project. SIP stands for Sustained Independent Project. And it is the apex of this MA. Fail this, fail at life… ish.
Having recently received my practical grades from term 2 I am grateful for my written ones which are barely keeping me a float. Everything I feared about term 2’s grades undoing the hard work of term 1 has come to fruition and the desperate frustration at feeling powerless in that should be saved for a late night gin and tonic – where I will happily regale you with my failures (bearing in mind that my idea of failure is sometimes quite different to others).
Anyway, on to Term 3 and SIP.
We begin on the last day of term 2. Having already engaged in mutual SIP wooing with Alastair (hero); we subsequently joined forces in a campaign to woo Sara (comic genius). Some gin and merlot later the picture below happened, and we became a trio:
The Fun Club was born.
Over the term 2 to 3 break our website emerged and we started tweeting with veritable abandon. An idea that riffed on the theme of ‘Never Have I Ever’ became our focus. Using NHYE as our R&D we aimed to take two days at the beginning of the new term to sift through over 50 suggestions from friends and family of things they think we (either collectively or individually) have never done.
Skip to week 2 of Term 3 and our R&D begins. Please do hop on over to our website to see the documentation of our R&D – the entertainment value is potentially quite high, so settle in with a gin.
Two days of challenges over, we enter the rehearsal room to figure out what we want to say. And we start to keep an online notebook that reflects on our journey so far: Notebook.
From the challenges come a sense of us facing the idea of failure and defeat. Or, maybe the fear of failure and defeat. Me getting told off for trying to stroke an alpaca, Alastair trying Lucozade for the first time, and Sara being a lion (cue a song from the Wiz “be a lion, if on courage you must call”). We push at our respective comfort zones.
Through our practice, rehearsals and banter we have begun to better understand how we connect with each other, and the audience. The power of theatre and the live encounter being brought to bear through our work. We unmake strangers of ourselves and the intentions of our work.
I have, and continue to, love this term. There is a dialogue forming in the rehearsal room that has given me a renewed sense of purpose. Following the difficult ‘second album’ that was term 2, term 3 feels likes getting back on track.
As a side dish to SIP we masters students also undertake an option unit. For my options unit I chose Archiving as Practice and Practice as Archiving – a choice spurred on by my enjoyment of the archiving process (keeping a living archive of the practices rehearsal process) and vidding during term 2. Both of which were interests that came to no artistic avail, but in term 3 might bear fruit.
The options intensive course took place at photoperformer, Manuel Vason’s studio near Brick Lane. An unexpected and exciting return for me to an interest in performance art and developing a better academic understanding of performers such as Marina Abramović and Ron Athey, amongst many others. From sitting in a dark room for an hour (Blair Witch has got nothing on this) to an oddly intimate moment which brought questions of consent to the table. The three days spent working down the road from the best bagels and cronuts in town were transformative. I confronted my own and other people’s definitions of privilege in the arts, and gained an understanding of my own sense of urgency in creating work.
At the end of the intensive we performed our own poetic image using the ideas of urgency and necessity introduced by Manuel.
The above is a behind the scenes expose of my pastie ass legs, and the initial set up that become the image below – created by placing red gel over the flash bulb and using white LED desk lamp uplighting.
The image is titled: Do I have panda eyes? (2017)
Photographer: Manuel Vason 2017
The reaction from a number of people has been “how gruesome”, “that’s weird” or “erm, nice?” which threw me perhaps more than I expected. I was so proud of the image and everything that I feel like it represents. For me it captures a moment in time, of my own fight, my invisible bruises, and wounds, from scraping and scrapping through my life to this point. It is about the sense of being watched and recorded without control. Of the sense that I am determined. That the outward perception of a person who ‘has it all figured out’ is presumption, and actually, we’re all doing what we can to survive this bun fight that is a life in the arts. So, to get reactions like the aforementioned made me feel like I had done something wrong, like showing this side of me and my work was wrong. I mean, no wonder so many people end up fearing other people’s opinions when they are so immediately negative.
This fed into our SIP, this fear of other people’s opinions and the fear of doing something that will be perceived as ‘weird’.
Work in progress sharings times 3 happened, including the final one on campus and we survived. We still have work to do. I still have so much work to do, but we are on the road to being true to ourselves as human beings, first, and then as artists! And I love it.
I leave you, for now… and look forward to seeing you on the flip side.
Photographer: Ashlyn Kusch. Taken at the dress rehearsal for The Fun Club presents [Working Title], 2017