We are midway through Red Eye Theater's New Works 4 Weeks event and I'm impressed, exhausted, inspired and a little confused. How did it get to be the middle of June already?
Work on my piece, “Monkey's Fist”, for the opening weekend of Red Eye's New Works 4 Weeks: Works-in-Progress has been underway since January. I always get excited when I work on something brand new and sparkly. Then I get terrified. Then I get creative. Eventually, I sleep. This past week? I slept.
I had some idea what was in store for me when I applied to the program, having been in Jessica Huang's piece last year. I've self produced ensemble created work before. How much different could this be? I was surprised how the view from inside my own work opened enough to allow me to really watch several other people go through their creative processes, and how much that influenced me. It got messy, and it got fussy, and it was a beautiful thing.
All the WIP artists hit bumps along the way, some more than others, and frankly I am ready for some smooth road now, please. There was a car accident which forced me to start over and a tornado that forced me to take a break a little too close to tech week for comfort. So it doesn't seem right to admit that I particularly enjoyed watching people work through, around or with their bumps in the road. But I did. Our regular feedback sessions gave not only additional sets of eyes through which to view our own work, but also the inspiration that only comes from watching new work gestate. More than once I was tired and just plain out of ideas when I'd show up for a feedback session, but I always left energized and inspired. That is the brilliance of working with groups of people on each others projects: everyone has an inside perspective on your work, but not the closeness that requires them to be right about it. And somehow that makes their thoughts easier to hear.
Then suddenly it was opening night. It was kind of nuts, and they really were Works-in-Progress, changing even on closing night. It was so satisfying to walk out on that stage and share our creations. I think I said, but it bears repeating: beautiful.
The following three weeks, of which two are still to come, are longer new works called Isolated Acts. Pieces I've seen at different stages in their development, and pieces I feel invested in though not personally attached to. Two upcoming pieces were Works-In-Progress pieces last year. Exciting and incomplete in their prior iterations, I thrill at the idea of bearing witness to this new stage in their lives. The second piece was brand new to me this year. “AfterLife” by Candy Simmons came to the Red Eye after touring several Fringe Festivals. It was ready to settle. It was ready to stretch.
I had only seen a brief section of the piece before showing up for the Friday performance. I entered the theater, sat and watched as the tech people moved about, and did what they do in all their brilliance. I looked at that stage it seemed like I had only just stepped off, and wondered if I was supposed to be doing something. That maybe I had forgotten. I'd come to the theater alone, not for any reason. I knew it would be good, I just wanted this night for me. One more 'feedback session?' I'm not sure. The lights went down, Candy took the stage, and I found myself once more inspired.
I get to this place, as a performer, where I can't attend a performance without seeing what is wrong with it. Without getting bogged down in the what ifs and the if onlys. My experience with Red Eye Theater's New Works 4 Weeks has given me back the admiration and awe for the things others do on stage that I had as kid. That feeling of anything being possible married to the feeling of responsibility in my role as an audience member. We often segregate new work, ensemble work, classics, etc, and have varying expectations for each. Right now, and maybe only for this moment, it doesn't matter to me what 'group' your work falls in to. I want you to succeed. And, perhaps oddly, I'm the better person for it.
Benjamin & Mandy Kutschied
Isolated Acts Artists