Parshathy J Nath
Working with Visual Respiration has opened up new possibilities for me as a performer. I understand how one could start from simple gestures to navigate a vast emotional canvas. Combining these gestures with sounds added a new layer of meaning to the actions. The body began responding in ways the mind could not fathom. Suddenly, so many new possibilities unfolded before us. We were working with several choices.
Personal memories were brought back on the rehearsal floor. We began engaging with our pasts in new ways. Yes, we looked them from a distance, but still, there was rawness and tenderness. Something had happened to my recollections, I noticed. They had left their sentimental zones, to occupy new crannies of the consciousness where dreams, fears and fantasies reside. They occupied these spaces in the form of smells, sights and warm caresses and hugs.
I resonate with the idea of performing tasks and deriving creative triggers from them. Sometimes, the sheer labour of crawling on the floor or dragging a dead weight on one’s thighs created an impulse. As a performer, I have learnt to rely on my body better for any kind of dramatic tension or emotional pull; its conflicting equations with my voice, discordant notes between my ankles and thighs, the pain in my arms as I use some props…all of them can be great raw material for a performer.
The process of devising helped us play with multiple propositions that sometimes worked and sometimes did not. I loved the absolute uncertainty with which we would start our journey, and the gradual evolution of meaning by the end of the process. Working with gestures, what was delightful was how the director would be inspired by an image from popular culture or everyday behaviour. Working with intuition and the grand narrative of the piece, the director, with the help of the cohort, will try to put these in context of the play. By the end of the process, involving several permutations and combinations, the significance for the gesture with respect to the play will emerge. The gesture, detached from its everyday reality, by now, would have assumed an abstraction.
Moments of “what will I discover in this space this week.” Inevitably, surprises.
Seeing how deeply a practice can change when there is routine, discipline, structure, and enough space given, to feel yourself, to warm up, to listen to the many stories that the body is trying to tell.
Space for exploration, and seeing, asking, where does this exploration want to go? Does it always reach there? The moments of push and pull, and catch and release. The repetition of this idea, and how it’s expressed in many ways.
Literally, catch, catch an orange, catch a ball, they are up in the air at the same time.
Let the ball roll, catch the orange, don’t let the juice spill.
The many balls we are juggling onstage.
And a scene, the expected, the unexpected, how will you pick these items up, what technique will I use with you, how do I tell, what risks you are, and are not, willing to take?
Rhythm, and functionality. Team work and a competitive spirit.
Feeling strong, wrapping around one leg, there’s no way he is getting to the other side. My team is determined.
Feeling strong, a heavy body across my lap, and my body is told – to move forward. Move forward, move, move, move, and shimmy and feel, feel the weight of my thighs, resilience.
A nose that wants to work overtime, but an energy that is determined.
There’s that time, to myself, in the space, let’s start, let’s start, but as soon as I’ve entered, the power of the studio takes on: bright lights, there’s no need for words, the diary comes out, pages that long to be written on, and there is a floor that wants to be rolled on, and there are walls that want to be bounced off of.
There are instruments to be played, and a foundation, but not necessarily a set of rules.
There is the idea that risk is an option….
and there is the feeling of what is it like, to stay in it, what can I discover, if I commit to this tree, if I never let go of this tree?
Even as our small branches are drifting off and telling their stories, what if we, here, as the tree kept exploring, stayed committed, a natural inclination, that becomes an afterthought, as the branches start to intertwine, as my trunk falls to the floor, and my toes become roots….
Mondays, the energy feels slow, groggy, slow to rise, slow to energize, slow to feel the pleasures of the morning.
Feeling us moving through the gestures, slowly starting to unpack, intention.
This idea of space, pockets of space in-between, for thought, for reflection, to express and to unpack feelings, a moment.
The mornings are quiet, construction, sweeping, feeling the beginning layers of dust, sneaking in a cup of chai, walking through, avoiding the stray dogs, not recognizing any building, and the expression of surprise at having wandered this way.
In this blog space, we talk about performance processes, interdisciplinary practices and various ways of creating performance and engaging audiences.