italy one - listening

To prepare for the Summer Intensive program (SIP) at the Workcenter, all the participants had to prepare two propositions. The task was described as follows:

Before coming, you should prepare two acting propositions that you will present at the beginning of the program.

One acting proposition should be based on a short text that is important for you. The text should be one on which you strongly desire to work. If the text you choose is not in English, please, bring with you a written English translation.

The second acting proposition should be based on a song. The song should be of unique quality, preferably an ancient song, maybe a song from your region, or tradition, or maybe one you heard from your family. The song should not be a personal composition or improvisation.

Each acting proposition should not be longer than 2 minutes and should have a clear beginning, a development and an end. In your acting propositions you should not simply recite the text and sing the song. Your acting propositions should be well prepared, repeatable, and should embody what you feel to be your most creative work

So, for the first proposition, being more familiar territory for me, I was reasonably clear about what I wanted to work on and why. I did not work on it hard enough, according to my own judgement, but nevertheless I was satisfied that I had a path to follow, and was very interested to see what would happen to this piece during the course of the workshop. The second proposition, that regarding the song, was much less familiar territory for me, and as a consequence, was much less clear. I understood the exercise intellectually to a certain extent, but myself in the exercise, not really at all.

 Fortunately I had given myself a day and a half in Rome before travelling to Pontedera for the workshop. This certainly contributed towards feeling a little more settled and ready to start work, but nevertheless the first 24 hours were not great. My time in Rome had proceeded pretty smoothly. The place I stayed in was fine, I had a pretty good plan of what I wanted to do and see, I could cook, and I even managed to meet with a friend from Australia for a coffee.

Mostly what I did was go to the Campigoglio and see the Capitoline museums. Amazing.

I travelled to Pontedera from Rome on the Sunday (the workshop began on the Monday) and was feeling quite good, but then had an unfortunate encounter in Florence with some hassly gypsies to whom, in the end I had to yell at in Italian to make them go away. I was scared, and I was given a little help, which was important, but really, I had to negotiate the difficulty on my own. And it was interesting, because in Rome I had been thinking about my difficult audition for ‘The Dressmaker’ and how I hadn’t taken my space during that audition at all, and then how I was really forced, with the gypsies, to take my space, to demand it and fight for my right to be left alone.

Then I arrived in Pontedera and waited at the train station for quite some time without anybody coming to pick me up, and the time was ticking and I was getting tired because I was waking up at 5.30 am and was still getting over my cold. Then finally I was collected with another participant, Ariel, and we were taken to go shopping and that was all quite a rush and quite challenging as well, although luckily Bagryana had warned me about it, and then I arrived at Santa Lucia, which is where I am staying through the workshop, a really divine Tuscan villa within a vineyard, and with incredible views of the sky and some hills and also a forest and in the distance a little village on a hill, and I met Delphine, who I am sharing an apartment and also a room with, and she is lovely, but she had already got very settled and it was all quite challenging and it was 10.30pm at least before I got to Santa Lucia and really literally I could not even talk.

The next morning I woke up at 5.30am, and used the time to revise my propositions, and to talk a little to Charlie and to email, then we were driven to the space to start work at 10am. We were welcomed and then pretty much immediately divided into two groups of something like 18-20 people in each group. I was assigned to the downstairs team, which is led by Mario. The upstairs team is led by Thomas. Then we changed into our singing clothes, which are a nice skirt and top or dress for the women and nice pants and shirt for the men and then we started with group singing. Mario did not really explain all that much, he just said to place ourselves in the space and to listen to the music and to the singing and to move and sing in relation to what is going on.

So we sang, then we worked on people's propositions, then we had lunch, then we worked on more propositions and then we sang some more as a group and then we went home. At about 6. Lloyd, one of the members of the team, walked a group of us home to Santa Lucia through the fields and the woods and the vineyard. It took about half an hour.

The walk became part of the practice. Of course.

There are so many aspects of my time here to reflect upon. There is the home life, both in the social aspect, the organisational aspect and the physical aspect; there is the walk to the space; there is the group singing; there is the text proposition and the singing proposition; there is the pilates; there is the Motions work; there is the swapping and working a bit with the other teams; there is the contact with the other people in the group; and then there is a whole lot of other stuff that also happens, like the lecturing, and the jockeying for position, and the limpet, and the negotiation of the mass of insecurity, ego and fear that I bring and everyone else brings to the work.

So, the work is pressing right now, and my computer’s battery is running down, so I will just write one more important point.

I have realised that I had/have (?) a little bit of baggage about listening. Isn’t that fucking crazy? I think it has two streams, but is condensed into one. There has been a fear of listening deeply, fully and truly, because of a fear of what I might hear; and there is also a fear of not being able to hear properly. So there is a fear that I will hear people fucking, a fear that I will hear people saying bad things about me; and at the same time, simultaneously, there is a fear of being deaf in some practical way or probably too, a symbolic way. A fear that I can hear and a fear that I cannot hear.

So the first little step of the new thought about this happened while I was practicing Primal, which is one of the base positions in Motions. (More about Motions later.) And in this position, you are primed, as well as primal, you are primed to jump, to leap, to spring, to move...and so you must listen. And of course in order to catch the impulses of the work it is very important to listen. And what is it to listen? What is it to actually listen? To listen requires yielding, to listen requires that you are not doing anything else at the same time, like you are not on your mobile phone, or you are not trying to show that you are listening or you are not trying to DO a thing, but you are, simply, listening.

So, to my absolute joy, I have been doing quite a bit of listening here in the vineyard and at the Workcenter. And it is the perfect place because there is an ease of listening here. There are many bird sounds and the sounds of church bells, and the sounds of cars, and the sounds of gravel and the sounds of the wind in the leaves. So in general the sounds are gentle and they are safe and they are not overwhelming.

Now, today, at the end of the first week, I am inclined to stay here in the vineyard, to listen and to watch, to stay in the one place and watch the sun travel from one part of the sky to another, to do my exercises and to work on my pieces, and to ease out and ease into.

More thoughts will come. They're on the way.