I Believe In People, or, Art vs People, Part 1

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Image of Philippe Gaulier, famous for teaching clown and bouffon, but a master in coaching live performance in general. Go study with him asap.

It never ceases to amaze me, the connections we are able to make in life and the profound effect we can have on others both in the moment and across time and oceans. On stage, a carefully placed, single gesture of a finger crooked could break your heart. (Study any perofrmance technically, especially commedia, clowning, comedy in particular and you’ll see the amount of skill neceessary to make anything not HORRIBLE). In life, a stranger interested in your work, sending a simple email to say hello, can start off a process that changes hundreds of lives. When we recognise in others that special something, let them know, and spend that extra effort keep them present. saltpeter is privileged to have made wonderful friends over the last two years – thank to everyone – and we want to build our future with you.

In LA, Tilly (Brooke, saltpeter CIC director, with Gary Merry and myself) has been able to meet Stuart Wolpert, a wonderful soul and a successful producer/writer/director who’s now running a fantastic acting studio, The New Actors Ensemble. Look it up if you’re heading LA-way. She’s also about to meet up with Ted Latty, a supporter of the Brautigan Book Club, based in Miami. Conversely, I’ve been happy to spend time with Carolyn Defrin of Chicago’s House Theatre, who’s now based in London and this is after I met Carolyn in Paris last year. Turns out she’s friends with Erik!

Other saltpeter artists are performing by invitation across Asia, Europe and the UK. I was very happy to catch up with Lleucu Siencyn of Literature Wales* in Cardiff – my new favourite exciting city in the UK – to talk about what Literature Wales is up to and how I might develop some projects which complement their fabulous work. I am so inspired by her generosity, passion and intelligence and would relish working with her team in any capacity – we’d learn so much!

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Image of Lleucu at Dinefwr

[*LitWales commissioned the Brautigan Book Club for the inaugural Dinefwr Literature Festival this year and we created three separate live events, spread across the three days, involving over 20 artists and Ianthe Brautigan, who we flew in from San Francisco. This was one of the most significant experiences and achievements of my life.]

I like to imagine that all of us, world over and through the boroughs of London, are in touch because we’re all connected, intangibly, by a special something about life and living that we believe in. I think it’s because we believe in people.

Someone asked me last night, what I’d prefer: “making good art or being a nice person”. Without question, being a good person is, for me, far more important than making art. Art without all that is good about people is worse than death. It’s a black hole and in my book, it’s dooming itself to be poor art.

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People first, theatre secondPhilippe Gaulier, and he’s no clown. Watch him talk about freedom:

 “When someone discovers their freedom and beauty, they’ll say fuck off to the theories, and the rest is nothing.” – Philippe Gaulier, on teaching freedom.

Watch him say these words in this video about the 30th anniversary of the school. The singer is, as it happens, Carolyn Defrin, who I mentioned above.

 

3 thoughts on “I Believe In People, or, Art vs People, Part 1

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  1. “It never ceases to amaze me, the connections we are able to make in life and the profound effect we can have on others both in the moment and across time and oceans. ***On stage, a carefully placed, single gesture of a finger crooked could break your heart.***”

    I can’t remember whether I’ve read this 2012 post before. Maybe not. Anyway, your opening paragraph, especially the second sentence, now reminds me of a performance I saw maybe fifteen years ago. I have mentioned this to several people before, but I don’t recall thinking of it in – say – the last year or two. (Why do some things trigger a submerged memory?)

    It was an evening of Korean performances at the Southbank Centre (QEH or maybe the Purcell Room). One piece was a folk song sung by three women who each held a fan. They stood at the edge of the stage (from a possibly fallible memory the right edge), one slightly in front of the other two, like a triangle. (I can’t remember if they were accompanied by instruments or if they were unaccompanied.) While singing the song they swayed slightly in time to the music, and sometimes flicked open their fan or flicked it shut. Sometimes one did it by herself, other times they did it in unison. That’s all the movement that they did – they didn’t move their feet. Yet it was one of the most mesmerising performances I have ever seen. Not heartbreaking in the way you mean, just (“just”?) deeply satisfying aesthetically.

  2. I meant to also say that this is a particularly important point:
    “Study any performance technically, especially commedia, clowning, comedy in particular and you’ll see the amount of skill neceessary to make anything not HORRIBLE.”

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