I've just finished day 1 of the SPCP and it has been a mind bending day. We spent the morning getting acclimated to the environment. Findhorn is a small experimental village community which began in the late 60's / early 70's as, well here is a blurb from the village website:
"The Findhorn ecovillage is a synthesis of the very best of current thinking on sustainable human settlements. It is a constantly evolving model providing solutions to human and social needs, while at the same time working in partnership with the environment to offer an enhanced quality of life for all."
and the url: http://www.ecovillagefindhorn.org/
You can log on to read more about it. There are relationships with the UN and with various ecological and humanitarian organizations all over the world.
But that is not why I am here. It just happens to be a great place to isolate oneself and to concentrate on the work at hand. It reminds me of conversations in the SITI company in which we realize how important it is for us to find places as a company to get away from the distractions of NYC and really have nothing to do but rehearse and work. It is not unlike the feeling of being in Toga where there really is only the training and the festival, and the rest of the time is spent resting or healing or pitching in with the dorm cleaning, the dish washing, the ushering for the festival, rehearsing, etc. The work at hand is foremost in one's thoughts and bodies and thereby it (the work) simply gets done more efficiently. We, SITI, make most of our work, or portions of it, away in either Prague, or Actors Theater, or Japan back in the day, and similar situations.
In fact being here has reminded me of my first trip to Toga Mura, Japan. There is the same feeling of traveling into the unknown. There is the strong feeling of "knowing" somehow that this is the right thing at the right time. Going to Toga when I was 24 was a life changing experience. It still is. I had no true idea even then that one could be an actor - not really. But I was going to graduate school and doing lots of plays until one day Kelly Maurer said to me, You really must go to Toga and do this work and I'll help you. And she did; and I did. I arrived that first night after 2 days of travel straight to the mountain and was hustled to the outdoor theater and stood in the back for the performance of SCOT company's THE TROJAN WOMEN. It was then and there that I realized that this is what people can do in the world. I felt my entire being shift, my brain, rewire, the tears rolling down my face, and stood open-mouthed in this beautiful theater in the remote regions of the Japan alps watching these animal-actors transport themselves and 1000 spectators from all over the world deep into the human psyche. And from that day onward nothing has been the same. I remained to train for 9 weeks. It changed again 8 years later when the SITI company was formed there. And that has been a 16 year journey which began with that night of THE TROJAN WOMEN under the stars. Nothing has been the same.
And now I am writing this late at night outside the theater here in Findhorn, beyond the scottish highlands, just near the sea where I can hear the gulls even as I write, under the stars (which are covered over by clouds I'm afraid and might be for the 11 days I'm here). It feels familiar somehow. I don't want to unfairly overlay it with expectations, but I feel the similarities. And this work of Deborah Hay which has shifted the thinking of so many artists who've danced her dances from Australia to France to the US and elsewhere, from the unknown and lesser know, to the likes of William Forsythe. To hear the stories of the dancers here and what they've seen of Deborah's work. Deborah really wanted to hear how the fund raising went for everyone. So we all sat around her accommodations and told the story of how we managed to raise the money by asking our friends, our peers, our colleagues and our families to help. We each had to tell a story and try to be articulate and make it happen. I told the story of the 7 hour movement marathon I did in the Skidmore dance theater. One spoke of asking his family with whom he hasn't communicated in a long time who don't even really know what he does or how he lives. They agreed that he should do his solo he's making here for them in their homes. And so now he "has a gig" as he says -- he will perform for his family and reunite and show them what he does. A reintroduction of a kind. So many stories. Deborah was clear at the end of it all that what she was learning was that we all had to be articulate and tell our stories, our linear stories about this non-linear experience that we are having - our work. We learned that even the French who've got a ministry of culture and they and the world assumes that no one is going to donate to them and support them because the government is there for them. Well this is changing rapidly in the present global and political climate. The Americans in particular were shocked. We assume no government support and know that we have to ask for private help.
Anyway, this is turning into something else. I simply wanted to say to all of you who donated and took a chance to help me get here that you were very much in the room with me, with all of us telling our stories, and you will be in the programs of all these dancers listed among all of THEIR patrons too. It will be a kind of book and testament to the people creating and the ownership of this work which is in the hands of you and people like you all over the world. And if you add your name to the 10 year list of people who've pledged to participants of the Solo Performance Commissioning Project, you realize just how big a net is being thrown - globally. Thank you.
I have pictures and things to send. Internet is difficult to get right now, so I am typing fast with very cold fingers under the one light available outside here in the dark before I lose the wifi connection.
More to follow. My very best wishes.