This journal is a combination of transcribed notes and spontaneous memories while transcribing. When the spontaneous remembering produced enough text to deserve its own section or page, I cut and pasted it elsewhere, e.g., Stop the Killing, Proposals, Research, or Leadership, Power, Contract. The last section of the journal – Postscript 2009 – is a collection of quotations, mostly from Marvin Carlson’s Performance: A Critical Introduction, which I was reading while working on this archive. The quotes supply a theoretical language and reference for thinking about the how and why of making this work. I expect that several of these statements will be integrated into the critical analysis writing (Delinquent Rhetoric) that is also included in this archive.
I considered different ways to consolidate or synthesize these notes but I didn’t want to erase the mundane details. I wanted to maintain the journal as an actual document of the process, rather than as a reflection or reconsideration of the completed project. The journal is discontinuous, with gaps. There were many days when I was unprepared or stressed out. I never knew who would come to rehearsal. Actually I knew that some people would always be there and never knew about some others. This made planning rehearsals really tough. I won’t address all the gaps. I couldn’t fill them now if I tried. But the next few paragraphs cover some of the larger areas of working that are barely mentioned in the journal.
Lights, Sound, Set
There were several undocumented meetings with Max who designed the lights and Matt who composed and performed the sound score, especially during October. Both of these artists made major contributions to the look, feel, and sound of the work. The set involved 4 distinct elements created by 4 artists working independently. Max proposed the white floor and the large light stands at the four corners. The other three artists responded to very specific requests from me: Tom Sepe made the solitary confinement cell with heavy, construction grade walls; Ryon Gesnick designed and welded the cage which was used both on the ground and as an aerial playground; and Rigo 23 designed and painted (with many volunteers including cast members) the mural size banners that spelled Inmate and Classmate in counter-indicatory One Way signs. These journals contain very little of the conversations and logistics that were necessary to manifest the visual aspects of the work.
Sonya Smith – Project Manager
The journal notes barely mention Sonya, who played an enormous role in manifesting Delinquent. I realize that one of the reasons that my notes so infrequently refer to the above collaborators was because Sonya was often dealing with these kinds of details. She was in charge of liaison with Yerba Buena’s tech people, as well as maintaining the budget, dealing with payroll for everyone, and securing last minute space for painting the murals. She ended up storing the cage in her garage when we learned, the hard way, that the cage did not fit into our rehearsal space. This project was rehearsed in so many places! CUE, Dance Mission, Studio 210 (most frequently), CounterPULSE (last minute cage aerials), Yerba Buena, Artaud (mural painting), and several rehearsals in my apartment. Add this constant movement and less than perfect conditions to the stress and instability of making this piece.
From the start I knew that the main costume would be simply the daily wear of each performer. The masks were a sudden inspiration that I had when walking past a shop with both Mexican wrestling masks (lucha libre) and full head latex masks of monsters, skeletons, and politicians (US & Mex). I bought 5 of each on the condition that I could return the ones I didn’t want. Even though some of the cast really liked the lucha libre masks, it was clear that they were more familiar, not as big a risk, and therefore not the ones we would keep. The latex masks were smelly and uncomfortable and difficult to see out of, especially when dancing. But they also really distorted the performer’s appearance, altering how their body moved, and becoming crucial to the play of identity, representation, and expectation that the work was based on.
March or April
Meetings with YBCA staff.
Jose Navarette – performance arts educator, wants me to guest teach the YBCA youth, and preferably to come with some of the cast.
Isaias – interactive media manager, will be making in-process videos to use on the blog and in the lobby and perhaps a podcast too
Cicily – community life manager, wants to talk about outreach strategies and plan some panel discussions leading up to the performance. Deadline: early June.
Aide – YBCA grant writer, wants copy!
Angela – Performing Arts Curator, says I can have $5000 of the fee now.
Youth Speaks Grand Slam at the Opera House
I watch this extraordinary teen poetry contest and write down all my favorites. I give a few of them the call for performers but I never hear from any of them. Then I write, repeatedly, to the director of Youth Speaks, but it takes him months to take action. I do end up casting 2 poets affiliated with YS, Nestor 16, and Constance 17.
Themes: wings clipped, slit wrists, phoenix from flames, rise!
In response to emailing the call to everyone I know who works with youth, in schools, universities, and art programs (SF Circus Center, Youth Speaks, Destiny Arts, The Beat Within and more), I pick the first five cast members:
Jorge Rodolfo de Hoyos Jr., Jeremie Chetrit, Tracy Piper, Meghan Milam, Nestor Reyes.
May 9 2008
First meeting with Sonya Smith, production manager. I had worked with Sonya on both runs of Sol niger and she’s excellent with schedules, tech planning, and maintaining the budget. Yes.
We make a big list of what she will do and what my assistant Julie or I will do:
Sonya: assist with promo production, arrange reh space and informing the cast about reh, tech & prod liaison with YBCA including scheduling and budgeting (do not go over the $12,000 allotted!), maintain payroll, coordinate any other production stuff including set construction, light rental, sound equipment.
Keith/Julie: schedule prod mtg with YBCA to intro Sonya, update mail list, assist on reh space research with people I know (Karl, Xeno, Zaccho), stay focused on casting (contact more friends who aren’t white – Pamela Z, David Molina…), get a stage manager and tech intern, email budget so far to Sonya.
Situationist – Mai 68 slideshow by Hugh D'Andrade
“not art in the service of revolution but revolution in the service of art”
Cougar Cadet Corps
Chipman Middle School, Alameda
picture a drum corps invading the space
With the first 5 cast members I schedule a series of three meetings that I call pre-rehearsals. I had made contact with a 6th person, Dawon Davis, but he never made it to any of the pre-rehearsals. Somehow we re-established contact after the summer and he joined the project.
PreReh #1, 10am-noon, Dance Mission, SF
Jorge, Jeremie, Tracy, Meghan, Nestor
Chat about the project.
Warm up – on the floor, walking, hanging over (stretching).
Make a short solo performance that includes your name. Show.
Free write: Delinquent. Read selections in pairs, 3x, shifting partners.
PreReh #2, 1-4:30pm, CUE Space, West Oakland
Jorge, Jeremie, Tracy, Meghan
Ahhh why no Nestor, no Dawon?
Warm up – hang, walk (Halprin)
Make a short duo performance without talking. Show.
Make a short duo (new partners) with minimal talking. Show.
Chat – what did you see? Gender, ideology, representation…
Make a quartet.
Storytelling – Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do? (from Anna Deveare Smith). All share. 2-3 minutes talking.
Chat – blame, race, fluid identity, Anna Deveare Smith
Make a solo with content, considering identity, blame…
Prep for PreReh #3
Contact Dawon, Nestor, Omar
Contact David I at The Beat Within – any female recommendations
Follow up with Sara Crowell at Destiny, musician Kevin Carnes and other African Americans
Books – bring a collection of books on prison, race, art & politics
Sonya – contact Museum of African Diaspora, YGC re: offering a performance or workshop at Juvenile Hall, confirm reh space, connect with Rebecca about set construction (confirm late Aug or Sep, and confirm budget).
PreReh #3, 6-9pm, CUE Space
Jorge, Tracy, Meghan, Jeremie, Nestor
Where is Dawon, Omar?
Books – share
Discuss Fall schedule, money (2 installments of $350 + commute $), contract, phone numbers
Personal project – everyone responsible to work on something, research and make something to share at the end of Summer Brenner
Warm up – Follow the leader, walking speeds 1 2 3 4 5, remembering positions 1-6
Free Write – read to all
(Breathing, body, words, not amazing but yes it’s practice, they are beginning to reveal)
Solitary exercise – Talk briefly about solitary confinement, 23 hours alone in a cell. Talk about prison as a metaphor. Discuss: what is a way to protect each other, protect the vulnerable among us? If not confinement of bad or mad ones, then what?
Action - everyone tape off an area 6’x8’, spend 10 minutes (or was it 20 or even 30?) in your space. Make something.
Jorge – twitch, fidget, breath. Imagine only impulse, no arrival, no gesture.
Tracy – stand, walk, pace, disrobe to bra, repeat walkovers – back fwd back fwd…
Nestor – touch body, look in mirror, push ups, collapse, talk in Spanish
Jeremie – eat hand, inhabit the space (what did I mean by inhabit?)
Meghan – “I don’t know the experience of solitary confinement in a US prison & I don’t think that sitting inside a tape rectangle in a circus space can give me any insight into that experience. So you can watch me sit here but I’m just sitting.”
Immediately I know that this text is in the show. We have begun.
Other imaginings prompted by this rehearsal:
Meghan gets enclosed in a cell the size of her taped area.
Audience gets handed Go Directly to Jail and Get Out of Jail Free cards.
A pre-show installation of incarceration solos & duos in limited spaces of their own constriction.
Microphones – with cords, coming from a single source, a hanging mic, one mic that could swing to reach each “cell”
Production Mtg at YBCA
Angela Mattox– discuss contract, residency ideas
Ysabel Irigoyen– all production stuff, schedule & budget & implementation
Jodi Fedder & Jose Maria Francos – tech staff
Decide on seating, & whether or not I want to define the space with curtains.
Program copy deadline: Sep 1
Photos by late August.
Kimberly Harding – PR – what’s the heart of the project? Get cast bios, and Meghan quote.
After 2 months of travel and anecdotal considerations, flights of fancy and non-intentional attention to the project – images, thoughts and feelings ARISE.
Now reading primer on post-structuralism and refreshing on Foucault (Discipline and Punish).
Genealogies of the other broken histories of who we separate ourselves from – who we define ourselves against. We are not them. We are not animals, are not women or fags.
Leper – ship of fools – confinement of madness & hysterical women – criminal – terrorist
Savage – slave – criminal – terrorist
Christians/Europeans are not savages. Culture not nature. Tame not wild. White is not black (nor Irish, African, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Muslim…) Democrats are not communists.
Who gets locked up? Who gets to lock up? In – Out ¥
Build a room around someone
- are the walls flat or bric a brac/found wood?
- does s/he get out?
- do we use video to see her, light & surveillance, control her, separate ourselves from her
- a room and someone inside – no doors or windows – building and debuilding or breaking out
A cheer – inmate or classmate?
- interrupted by some kind of Proclamation: whereas, whereas, therefore…
A chorus of noise/non words
Dance – what kind of dances besides camp (the cheer), task (building, climbing, writing), speaking (body talking)
Touch – isolation means not touching
- a hug wearing contact mic
- the awkwardness of bodies approaching and holding each other
Role of Confinement/Prison:
- separation (not us)
- silence (what??)
- invisibility (who??)
- threaten (who’s next, y’all better behave!)
How to work abstractly without silencing the local/real/particular experience?
Statistics: comparative prison stats, youth & adult:
- California to other states
- US to other countries
- Now to 1990s, 80s, 60s, 30s…
Cage – the cage is for the animal, the not-human, the insane, savage or poor
Contrast room (a box, invisible prisoner) with cage (exhibit, visible inmate)
“Parole” means word
The language of prison imposes a silence on the language of crime, race, power, difference…
Foucault: this book is an archeology of that silence (Madness & Civ)
Delinquent – this performance is an archeology of the silence imposed by cops, courts, prisons AND the psychosocial & prison-industrial structures which sustain and promote them.
Contact David Solnit about making room.
Reach out to more people working with Afr/Am youth: Allan Frias, Brava, Jo Kreiter, Oasis.
The Beat Within – Delinquent is happening. Confirm dates for comp tickets and stacks of zines.
Photogs: Phyllis Christopher with LissaIvy Tiegel ($125 each)
Doing the shoot outside Youth Guidance Center, we meet Omar Khalif, ombudsman. He is enthusiastic about the project and agrees to come to rehearsal. The site was both obvious and strange. We had no permission to be there and were using the architecture of the jail as a kind of abstract presence, as shapes, walls, as surfaces for light and shadow.
We had to do the photo shoot for a marketing deadline before we had a complete cast. Missing were the three cast members with the most direct experience in jails and other state institutions for juveniles, including the two black males in the cast. This absence only highlighted the difficulty of negotiating the vision of the project with the work of bridging cultural divides. It also meant that all visual promotional materials were less ‘of color’ than the actual cast, and didn’t show the people most impacted by the prison industrial complex. This tragic irony was noted by all, including each of the three young men, as they became a part of the group.
Director’s Notes (late Aug, anticipating first rehearsals)
This project intends to frustrate expectations and disturb clichés of art for social change. We offer no transformational narratives about surviving poverty, degradation, violence, or cruelty. The cast will not represent the static identities of urban youth held hostage by most Hollywood, courts, social justice activists, and ipods. The change that might be inspired from our work might not be what you’re looking for. We will not take important steps towards ending institutional racism nor abolishing the prison industrial complex.
Delinquent attempts an archeology of the silence that the language of prison has imposed on the language of the body, both personal and social. What is not said, not-yet said? Who is the delinquent? How do we speak? This performance is a poetic confrontation with delinquency, a reviewing of crime, a focus on what Foucault refers to as “the other form of crime” in which “men confine their neighbors.” Contrasting solitary confinement with collective play, Delinquent is an experiment in solidarity, an attempt to feel-speak-act together.
“Her work shows us a continuous reading of the world. Her performances, however do not represent documentary or narrative texts but utopian research as well as political poetry.”
- Helmut Ploebst discussing choreographer Vera Mantero (Lisbon)
Video: System Failure (13’ version), from Books Not Bars website
Image/choreography – six guards straddle body & start punching (he protects head with arms).
Solitary cells for youth: 4’ x 8’, 21 hours out of 24
21/24 = 7/8 – if performance is 75’ then we could ‘lock someone up’ for 66’
Youth prisoner naked with blanket. O how Beuysian (I like America, America likes me). Whoever is disappeared in the room could throw their clothes out and we throw blanket in.
Tue Sep 2
Reh #1, 4-6:30pm, Dance Mission
Tracy, Jorge, Nestor, Constance, Meghan, Jeremie
Youth incarceration: How is it part of a larger social structure, ideological structure? How is training or rehearsal for adult society? What are the differences between youth and adults – power dynamics, communication gaps?
Talk images so far.
Talk contract, money, commute $.
Talk marketing- who will design sticker and postcard, ½ price tix, blog.
Tracy and Constance agree to work on designs.
We are not all the same. For Omar, Dawon and others, life’s demands make participation in this project more difficult than for others. Comments? Concerns?
We are still looking for one more stable ensemble member w/ experience “inside” the system.
I proposed that each cast member choose a mentor or hero or brother/sister in prison. Could be a historic figure. But this never manifests. Similarly, at the beginning of summer I proposed that each person make something but it didn’t happen in a concrete way. Clearly everyone has been thinking about the project and collecting stories, images, feelings.
Reh #2, Dance Mission
Meghan, Constance, Nestor, Tracy, Dawon, Jeremie, Jorge
Warm-up: walking awareness, run, stand, fall & rise 10x
Aerials: using the pulley, everyone go up (decide how high), and everyone take turns pulling/supporting
Read: Joseph Beam on writing a prisoner. Make a short piece in response.
West Side Story @ The Castro
The delinquent song (Officer Krupke) – we should use this!
Gather around a body, pick him up, carry off
Zizek @ Modern Times bookstore
The original post-dramatic subject – the living dead in concentration camp.
A subject without power, without empathy. The spark of light is missing when you look at them. Deprived of symbolic substance.
What is the political meaning of post-dramatic subject?
Doing nothing is not worse or more violent than doing things that maintain power dynamics that sustain the system. The system needs us, or much of what we do, so nothing can be a kind of intervention.
(KH – this echoes what Hillman used to say about indulging in depression as a resistance to culture of speed and productivity).
Negri – USA made a nation-state coup d’état on the world. There are no other nation-states. Global capitalism is not a single entity, not universal and never will be.
Zizek speaks to US & Euro hypocrisy wrt to free market capitalism: social welfare for US markets, protective laws for US markets, while forcing everyone else to comply with free trade agreements, WTO protocol…
First step of critical thinking:
Do not accept the way the system describes itself.
Watch Chaplin: The Great Dictator
The Abandonment of Democracy
Jacques Rancière & Christian Höller, 2007, Documenta Magazine No 3, Education, www.Taschen.com
also Rancière, Hatred of Democracy, 2005, trans 2006 & Disagreement: Politics & Philosophy, 1995, trans 1998
Art has its own politics, distinct from attempts to politicize it.
Arts form of efficiency consists in blurring the boundaries in the redistribution of the relations between spaces and times (KH geographies & histories/futures?), between the real and the functional.
Godard proposes: epic theater for Israel, documentary for Palestine
No, confuse the genres, create room for play.
DELINQUENT – epic & documentary, real & fictional, create room (space, time) for play
Gimme an I! I!
Gimme an N! N!
Are you in or are you out?
Gimme an M! M!
Gimme an A T E, that’s MATE means pal
Are you my friend?
Are you out or are you in, mate?
Omar Khalif interview
Khalif is ombudsman at YGC, Juvenile Hall SF. He comes to rehearsal and talks a lot, very directly and generously and intensely laying out the racial dynamics and dead endedness, i.e., infinite loops where all roads lead back to Juvie.
This meeting was important to the group and became a point of reference for many of us.
See notes from Khalif in the RESEARCH section.
Tue: Work cheer.
Thu: Talk racial segregation in our lives. Work on the pulley. Duet sketches: Omar in box, Jeremie as guard. Constance in the air with pulley, Tracy contortion. Meghan & Dawon, dance & text.
Sat: Work cheer. It doesn’t ever get anywhere. Later I stop working on it.
Playing with mic and amp, feedback.
Talk safety, survival, killing. What is revenge? Macho, pride, identity. Let’s use juvenile crime and punishment, rights and opportunities, oppressions and assumptions as DOORWAY into personal & collective research – what needs to be said? done?
Body exercises – approach/retreat duos – no touch, test limits, improvise.
- improv balancing the space – 2 or 3 people as if on huge disc.
Jorge – As a youth I always felt like a 40-year-old man – never felt like a typical youth. We’re all young bodies & supposed to be representative? Masochism of young bodies manipulated by older persons’ rules, expectations, choreographies.
Jeremie – no concrete relationship to issue, gathering information. Father went to prison as a young man – transformative experience. What’s the prison? Who’s the cop in my head? The threat of punishment? What is freedom? It’s difficult. No obvious answer. Thinking about space, city space, confined and open spaces…
Tracy – relate more to “delinquent” even tho’ never been caught. Want to experiment with dirt & cleaning. Puberty – women’s body – burlesque. A delinquent experience. Good girl / bad girl.
Nestor – being as curious as possible. Questioning the process. Questioning freedom – everyone sees it differently. Being seen as criminals, belittled by government. Others feel like they’re getting the respect & resources they need. Be conscious – find similarities between life and prison system. Be socially aware.
Meghan – freedom, November, elections. What is freedom in the USA? Who gets to define it? USA democracy? Enter the work abstractly, theoretically. So difficult to find the body. Interdisciplinarity.
Trae – when inside, I couldn’t express myself. Then I repeat my actions and contexts but I want to change. Inside is freedom because you’re separated from your habits and problems.
Jeremie – engage the audience or start in the audience. Inspire them to disrupt roles.
Tracy – I went to Oakland Tech. 3 kids wearing the same color is a gang.
Omar – pick 10 excerpts from The Beat Within. Arrange to make a collage portrait of unheard voices.
Delinquent song from West Side Story
Tim Wise – white privilege and race systems. Read and talk about patterns of statistics.
Trio – dance without being able to get up – 2 people hold 1 down
Q: Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? (from Anna Deveare Smith)
Work in pairs to respond, then with mic.
Games with mic, dragging, being held…
Interview Trae Greer, 17, cast member
Q: Where were in Juvie?
A: San Francisco & Alameda
Q: How many were in your unit?
Q: How many white?
A: 1 white. All the rest Black.
Q: Really, what about Latinos and Filipinos?
A: 1 white. 2 Filipinos. 1 Samoan. And the rest Black.
Q: How about in SF?
A: There were 20 in my unit. Half Black, half Latino.
Reh, Studio 210
Work on Krupke, rope climbing, walls & counting
Talk about imagination, the future
Remind everyone: CR 10 is Sep 29 in Oakland.
Reh, Studio 210
Meghan, Jorge, Tracy, Jeremie, Constance, Dawon, Omar
Work on opening text: Who we are
Work photos, cards – promo stuff
Krupke – add some choreography
Making time – Jorge & Meghan work duo, others work solo
Talk ideas – sewing to each other
- two poets or stories at the same time: Are you listening to me?
- Borderlands – Meghan/Jorge
- Tracy – strip search, strip tease
- post show discussion on Friday
Tom Sepe – working on walls/room. Carpet for bottom edge to protect floor, make easy to slide.
Rigo – dimensions of banners. Up to 30’ but what is height?
Blog – director’s notes plus cast writing
Preshow announcement – Keith with cast or cast only
Get new info to Betsy and Kimberly (PR) at YBCA
4-hour lab reh at Keith’s apartment
Dawon & Jeremie – interview each other, teach each other dances
Writing – Nestor, Jorge, Meghan
Reh, Studio 210
Work with wall falling
Learning vocabulary from The Beat Within, translations by Omar
labie – laptop
5.0 – cops
‘ro – robitussin
chop, choppa – AK47
primo – cousin (Spanish)
sparkie – spark plug
Q: what do you do with a spark plug?
A: break a window.
rocks - crack
Late September, Keith notes for Kimberly/PR
(sent all plus Director’s notes from late Aug)
Since mid-August when we began rehearsals for Delinquent, there have been (at least) 8 street murders in the Mission, most in the 24th St corridor where I live, and where we rehearse. Most of the victims have been youth and young adults in the same cohort as the Delinquent cast. Two of our team knew some of the deceased. The cold violence and desperation of the streets where some of us live, work, and go to school has become a point of focus and witness for this piece. How can the dead be honored and remembered? How can today’s young people disrupt or correct the media’s ongoing portrayal of the violence as personal and as normal, as if youth of color are always and already criminals?
In early September we invited Omar Khalif, ombudsman at SF’s youth jail, aka Juvie aka Youth Guidance Center, to speak with the cast. Omar is an amazing storyteller whose tales of work intersected with his own personal story, including raising four girls in the Bayview. When we asked him how many of his clients/contacts at YGC are African American he suggested that we rephrase the question to ask how many white youth he deals with. This has prompted much discussion around how we address institutional or systematic racism. Where should we focus? What are the questions to ask? Why does justice seem so distant?
Simultaneously the financial institutions that profited insanely from deregulation are now collapsing. The proposed bailout of 700 billion dollars is basically being stolen from today’s youth and future generations. Any good ideas that presidential candidates might have with respect to alternative energy, education or health care will be seriously compromised. How does this relate to a performance on juvenile justice, crime and punishment? How can youth influence the decisions that impact them so directly?
The other big conversation in our rehearsals is about art. What is it good for? How can a dance come from a statistic? What is the role of the imagination and creativity in the tough work of nurturing a world worth living in? How is the director, a middle aged and middle classed white male, influencing, limiting or empowering the voices of a cast less than half his age, a majority of whom are not white? How can a performance at Yerba Buena impact the society we live in?
We’ve been looking at how prison and juvenile justice gets portrayed in art and media. We’re building a scene that cites the delinquent song from West Side Story and today we looked at Piranesi’s prison drawings from the 1700’s, which critique machine-age dehumanization and isolation.
Training. Everyone is learning to climb a rope, to support themselves in the air. We applaud each other’s effort and take pride in each other’s accomplishments. We are learning to understand difference and cultivate respect. Today a dancer with extensive experience in hip hop and African dance learned a strange improv based on feeling sensations in the body and being distracted by dust particles in sunlight. His partner, an aerialist with extensive experience in contact improvisation learned a fierce rhythmic dance. These two young men, aged 17 and 23 respectively, born in Oakland and France, having been raised in foster care and a nuclear family, black and jewish, spent the previous half hour interviewing each other. The dancing followed the stories.
I could go on and on. We’re in rehearsal right now. As I type, 3 people are composing a dance, 2 are working on a poem that riffs off the US Constitution’s Preamble, and 2 others are sharing frustrations while performing circus tricks.
List of Potential Solo & Group Actions – still to make
Meghan – dance of heart broken open
Trae – dance to keep you out of jail (evolved into dance of no fixed position or identity, don’t stay anywhere long enough to be identified with that place or action)
Omar – the story that is obvious or expected meets the story no one expects, doesn’t know or might not believe
Nestor – jumping and climbing (wings?)
Omar, Nestor, who else – honoring the fallen, gone. Names but what else?
Jorge – running dance
- pushing through each other, with Meghan
- lift someone really high
Jorge Meghan Trae Jeremie, yes
Nestor, Constance, Omar, maybe
Tracy, Dawon, no
Dawon – fierce dance of determination and survival, repeat until exhausted – end with flocking or unison?
Stuff to get or try
An image with ash (Tracy). Get ash, tarp, and vacuum.
Nail the hoodie to the box. Hammer, nails.
Write – a text to prep The Beat selections. Voices under lock-up, unlocking voices.
- voices we can’t seem to hear (ask Omar for vocabulary)
Wear shoes to rehearsal. Talk about brands.
Get up with someone standing on you – Omar, Jeremie, Meghan
Omar – push ups, add push ups to Krupke
Krupke, add leg kick to spin, drop, kick
Dawon dance in 3-sided box. Yes. He gets locked up. Does he yell to be let out?
Big list of potential sections
chronology not set but almost, some things go before or after box gets made
- Krupke – most of cast
- The Beat – most
- People die – most (after box)
- Who we are after rehearsal – Omar, Meghan
- Constance – 24th St is on fire
- Omar – trying to tell my sooty, what can I ell you that will tell you I am human & deserve to exist, to survive, to grow, to succeed
- Nestor – nothing written yet
- Dawon – from inside the box
- Meghan from under the wall?
- Duo – Meghan & Jorge (after box)
- Trio – Meghan, Jorge, Trae (before box)
- Duo – Trae & Dawon (before)
- Solo – Meghan heart (just before)
- Solo – Dawon – box
- Solo – Trae – no fixed location – perhaps with 3. duo?
- Solo – Jorge – under the wall
- Tracy at cage
- Tracy with hoodie – contortion, slow backbends
- Jeremie - rope
- Jeremie aerial cage
- Nestor - rope
Pre-show installation, as audience enters
- Dawon/Trae – hold up the wall
- Nestor/Omar – We the People, working on it, rewriting…
- Tracy – alone at cage with sign or unused mic, when all are seated she speaks
- Facts to audience
- Constance – delinquent news, Marcy Kaptur (what does this mean?)
- Meghan – blinders, no matter how long, no insight – sitting in her square
- Jorge – facts? amp/feedback
- Jeremie – some slow sensing score
Jeremie giving bodywork
Thu Oct 9
Go over the map/score – what’s missing, what do you want?
Talk – how I imagine the cast when not ‘doing’, the role of ‘being’, role of 2nd and 3d level images, including holding up the wall
Round robin, wall holding.
Nestor – people die – names, 1 thing we should know
- Oct 14, 4-9pm, Studio 210
- Oct 16, 4-7pm, Studio 210
- Oct 18, 2-6pm, Studio 210
- Tue Oct 21, 4-9pm, Yerba Buena,
- Thu Oct 23, 4-7pm, 7-9pm optional, Yerba Buena
- Sat Oct 25, 3-6pm, Dance Mission, 3316 - 24th St.
I must have lost my mind during this intense month of rehearsals. I have no notes in my book. I guess every rehearsal I just worked on what I could with whoever was there. The map/score got tighter, things undone either got done or cut. Texts got memorized or a way to read them was developed.
At YBCA rehearsals, we started to get a feel for the space. Max came to rehearsals and measured the space, figuring out light placements. Jeremie went into the grid, 30’ high and started to play, carefully. I was shocked when we got permission to have this image/dance in the performance.
I’m pretty sure that I was never as anxious working towards a premiere than I was during this month.
Thu Nov 13, 3pm Dress rehearsal – don’t go to work or school – Keith will pay lost wages. Marty Sohl & Edward Casati will photograph.
Note: Nov 1 – 5-10 people will come to watch run thru.
Studio 210, really rough run thru for feedback
Rigo, Yvonne Hardt, Max, Jess Curtis, who else comes?
Rigo – suggested that Omar do his first 3 numbers in Spanish, when he’s still in Nicaragua, and switch to English when he moves to the US – Yes
Yvonne – questions how to use the written texts? choreography for the hand held cards? what about mistakes? Brecht – don’t get emotionally involved in the reading of texts. Where to look? Questions the circle? Is it a real circle? Political theater is usually in a line. The fist during the mask dance. Whose fist? Malcolm (L arm, head down). Worker fist is 45 degrees fwd. Notes on speaking – what is the body doing, watch the voices which seem to go in and out. Constance in sling – either fit the strap to C or contort C to fit. Texts – sometimes too long, pedagogical. why? Silence – can be as successful as text. What if Dawon’s voice doesn’t get out? Transitions – either overlap or extend the space… Simplify where possible, e.g. take out Tracy’s split leg in stripper dance.
Jess – thank you. You have a show that will touch people. Get out of the way of the truth you are carrying. Text – hold it – how? Memorize, read, tell your story, practice! West Side Story is R & J, youth as frontline of social violence. What is body at start…? Wall – play with locations. Meghan dance – quality is good but it’s not there yet. Box building – rehearse!
Tue Nov 4, 4-8:30
- measure rope (28’) & pulley (27’)
Nestor – 2pm to work What is a man?
Meghan – more action
Edit “why” and “24th St.”
Trae – 2 dances, 2 statements
Reh all with Omar
add Jorge & Meghan – hug, jump, catch
Run 24th St with Jorge dancing
Omar & Meghan text – add
Work with Nestor happens slowly but we’re getting somewhere, grounding political in personal. What is learned at home? “My mom says, you’re just like your father.” How to say Bitch and why? or Ho? Women as toys just for pleasure or fun. You (guys who treat women like ho’s) are just disgracing yourself and acting like a dumbass with no control over what you’re saying and so you pass it on and pass it on. You’ll be the same person begging for a drink, for money. I ask, Where do you wanna be in 5 years? College, education, job.
Thu Nov 6, 4-7pm
Reh group stuff – Krupke, The Beat, mask dance
Omar + Meghan
prep for Tech day, Wed
Sat Nov 8, 2-6pm
6pm take apart walls
work Trae opening
Transition to group, music, Go!
Krupke – work text, style of speaking, solo dances: what and when?
Jeremie – less flopping, stand in rope
Omar – go help Jorge out from under wall
Transition Nestor rope to Constance poem
Trans to Tracy hoodie
Trans to People Die
Tracy – skip “people who died” it’s assumed
Trans – move cage!
Overlap Nestor with all @ cage.
Texts – don’t lose last lines
Nestor – questions
Reh the box – define jobs – who does what?
Tue Nov 11
8am – Paint walls with Nestor
11am – Aaron to pick up box, then cage at CounterPULSE
Yerba Buena – load-in, Max lights, when sound?
Run thru, 6:30-9:30pm, Brava Theatre
Dances, texts, masks, music, hoodie
Wed Nov 12
Tech Reh, Yerba Buena
10-3 focus notes
Thu Nov 13 – PREMIERE!
Dress Reh 3-6pm, 8pm performance, Yerba Buena
I have pages of notes from the dress rehearsal with checks indicating that they were all communicated. Notes cover individual performance, transitions, how to use mics, lights, timing for Matt to start or stop sound, clarify the preset, run thru that text before 8pm, mic levels, sound volumes, April cues and more stuff to take care of.
I know that with all ensemble creations, each person commits to the work, to the group, in their own timing. And there is always someone who is last. This time it’s Dawon. Between missed rehearsals and also having to jump the furthest from his life outside the project to the world inside this project, he has kept a distance that is now dangerous to the work. I considered cutting him several times but kept feeling like I couldn’t. Some folks were more annoyed and/or understanding than others but it was clear that action had to be taken. I remember telling him at dress rehearsal to stop holding anything back, that I hadn’t yet seen him really dance. He was still hurt about being inside the box so long, and not feeling important to the work and not feeling like he really gets to shine shine shine. But somehow, despite everything, he did finally join the work at dress rehearsal, with only 2 hours to spare before we opened.
Then I have another six pages of notes after the glorious premiere. It’s clear that I am just now in these last 2 run thrus getting a feel for what’s possible. Asking for all kinds of little additions, gestures, or deletions, simplifications. Some of my notes are about negotiating the audience responses – applause, laughter… Lots of notes for lights and sound. And then I have notes like: Nestor – excellent! Constance robot salutes – yes yes yes. Dawon – dance in box during the silence – yes yes yes. Tracy – nice breathing. Gorgeous first back bend! Krupke – a little flat at 2/3ds with a good finish. The cage was too high – lower the trio so they can dismount easier. Matt – the beats came in a little too heavy during the cage dance.
This was one of the most satisfying openings I’ve ever experienced. Standing ovation and instantaneous passionate positive feedback. It still felt fragile, incomplete, rough as hell, what the fuck, but somehow we made it. We really did.
Fri Nov 14
6pm call, 8pm show! 9:15pm Talk back, Yerba Buena
I still had pages and pages of notes after the Friday show, which I gave to the cast on Saturday as they arrived.
After the performance on Friday we had a talk back session with the audience, which was attended by at least half the audience, well over 100 people. It was really powerful for the cast, especially those with little performance experience, to hear directly how their work had impacted people, touched, impressed, moved, inspired.
Sat Nov 15
6pm call, 8pm show! Strike, Yerba Buena
As per tradition, my own, I don’t take notes for the final performance. What for? Let go. Let go.
After the strike I go out with some friends for food and drink but Tracy & Omar keep texting me to join them in a club. I can’t actually believe that they are out together, so at midnight I go find them, with Meghan, Max, and Tracy’s beau. An amazingly unlikely group that outside of this project would never be in the same club, let alone together. Tracy and I dance madly, a performance that nearly causes trouble. We all drink a lot. Meghan, Max, Omar and I catch a cab home. We hide Omar who says they won’t stop if they see him. It’s the gang banger homeboy cholo version of being black when hailing a cab. Meghan pisses in the street when we get to the Mission, out of view but still another cultural bridge or clash moment that I adore.
POST-SCRIPT 2009: THEORY QUOTES
Antecedents to Delinquent in community-based performance or the artist going into a marginalized context that is not their own and finding ways to make art that is not only social work or politically correct funding opportunities and not only using Other bodies for their own in an age-old colonial exploitation but aware of these problematics and not denying their looming potential every day:
John Malpede works on skid row with LAPD, LA Poverty Department, 1985
Rhodessa Jones works in SF county jail with The Medea Project: Theatre for Incarcerated Women, 1992
“How we are seen determines in part how we are treated; how we treat others is based on how we see them; such seeing comes from representation.” (Richard Dyer, The Matter of Images, 1993, p. 1).
This statement speaks to the central project of Delinquent: challenging how youth of color are seen (as delinquent) in order to change how they are treated. Youth, specifically urban youth of color, are too often represented as criminals and potential criminals, as disturbances to order and civility, as social and cultural infections spreading the disease of chaos, violence, primitive and anti-social values. These representations justify an intensifying of security structures, at schools and in the streets, which participate in a prison industrial complex.
Lyotard quoted by Carlson (p. 151): Postmodernism, “simplifying to the extreme” is an “incredulity toward metanarratives."
Delinquent attempts a rupture with the metanarrative of the bad kid, the delinquent, the youth of color, the dangerous or uncivilized brown or black male, the criminal.
How many people told me that they wished for more personal stories from the ensemble? Disrupting Omar’s story, the only holistic narrative in Delinquent, teases the audience who want to know more, who want a more traditional, empathy producing, storytelling theatre. Many people want (and expect from ‘social justice’ performance) an inspired tale of the disadvantaged victim who defeats injustice or transcends oppressive material conditions. When Omar does get to recite the entire text, there is a brief image of triumph, that he has survived the attempts to silence and humiliate him and has arrived to state his name and claim his place. But what has actually happened? His script is not a whole narrative but a list of moments, a fragmented narrative with many gaps. And when he’s firmly in his place we realize that the immigrant young man, on probation for weapon possession, with two kids, is really in no place at all. He has neither arrived nor triumphed. His struggles are plentiful and evident. In fact, the conclusion of his text is a tragedy. At least while struggling to speak, he had our attention, sympathy, and best wishes. We want him to make it. But once he does, what can we do for him? Who will stand with him when he leaves the theatre tonight? This ambivalence of struggle and triumph is staged specifically to disrupt expectations of smooth representation, of fixed and generalized identity projection. I wanted to disorient the audience, as an audience who paid for a theatrical experience, and by frustrating their expectations, make their expectations more evident.
Delinquent operates simultaneously as, and between the strategies of, a 60s inspired political theatre of subversive messages and dissident representations AND a postmodern/poststructuralist project of deconstructing representation and authoritative message, and challenging the process of representation itself.
QUOTES relevant to the working process of Delinquent – maybe best transferred to Rhetoric paper? or used as punctuation for journal?
“Paradoxically, in spite of the newly refurbished diversity of the mainstream, globalization has lead to the recolonization of the art world and has turned the multicultural landscape into a hip backdrop. The global art world is a colonizer captivated by the strategies of decolonization.” Carolina Ponce de León (quoted by GGP in Culturas-In-Extremis, Perf Stud Read, p. 295)
“Moral and political multiculturalism are the privilege of the powerful and the protected.” Johannes Fabian, 1999, Theater and Anthropology, Theatricality and Culture, Perf Stud Read, p. 181)
“I do theatre because I want to preserve my freedom to refuse certain rules and values of the world around me. But the opposite is also true: I am forced or encouraged to refuse them because I do theatre.” Eugenio Barba, 2000, The Deep Order Called Turbulence, in Perf Stud Read, p. 252, trans Judy Barba.)
“Extracting the difficult from the difficult is the attitude that defines artistic practice. On this depend the incisiveness, the complexity, the dense quality of the result, as well as the moments of difficult, suffering and illumination, disorientation and reorientation that make up the process.” Eugenio Barba, 2000, The Deep Order Called Turbulence, in Perf Stud Read, p. 253, trans Judy Barba.)
“The tensions between forces that are divergent, opposed to one another or simply contiguous, can lead to catastrophe. But if we succeed in keeping these forces at bay and discovering the kind of relationship that exists between them – then we will attain density instead of catastrophe.
Density disorientates the spectators, forcing them to extract the difficult from the difficult and shaking them out of the familiar trains of thought, which constitute a safe home for their ideas.” Eugenio Barba, 2000, The Deep Order Called Turbulence, in Perf Stud Read, p. 255, trans Judy Barba.)
“Work does not only tire, but sometimes it hurts.” Eugenio Barba, 2000, The Deep Order Called Turbulence, in Perf Stud Read, p. 260, trans Judy Barba.)
“Friends unfamiliar with Goat Island’s performances ask me what they do, and I tell them: they use text, but not to tell a standard theatrical narrative or story; and they use movement, though it’s not what you would expect by the term “dance.” And combining those texts and movements creates something beyond those individual components of text and movement, and the best word we have for this is “performance.” (Goat Island, 2002, Letter to a Young Practitioner)
“He sought instead to call attention to the audience’s moment-to-moment existence in the theatre, to seeing what is there, to seeing themselves seeing, and thus aiming to “ground us in what-it-is-to-be-living.” (Carlson on Richard Foreman, p 141)
In Defense of live performance
“more than entertainment, more than didactic or persuasive formulations, and more than cathartic indulgences. They are occasions in which as a culture or society we reflect upon or define ourselves, dramatize our collective myths and histories, present ourselves with alternatives.”
MacAloon, John J. (ed) on cultural performances in, Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle: Rehearsals Toward a Theory of Cultural Performance, Philadelphia, Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1984, p.1.
“Theatre provides an opportunity for a community to come together and reflect upon itself,” serving not only as a “mirror through which a society can reflect upon itself” but also as an aid to shaping “the perceptions of that culture through the power of its imaging.”
Carlson (214) quoting Margaret Wilkerson, “Demographics and the Academy”, in Reinelt & Roach (eds), Critical Theory and Performance, Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press, 1992, p. 239.
“”theatrical” performance (is) a special (if not unique) laboratory for cultural negotiations”
“Theatre studies’ distinct contribution across disciplines can be a place to experiment with the production of cultural meanings, on bodies willing to try a range of different significations for spectators willing to read them. Theatre studies becomes a material location, organized by technologies of design and embodiment (through artisanry and actor training), a pedagogically inflected field of play at which culture is liminal or liminoid and available for intervention.
Dolan, Jill, “Geographies of Learning: Theatre Studies, Performance, and the ‘Performative’, Theatre Journal, 1993, vol 45, p 432.
The activism of challenging representation
Carlson (154) discussing Philip Auslander’s 1994 book Presence and Resistance, which looks at contemporary performance artists and postmodern theorists to seek a potential for political work.
“…postmodernist art’s resistance is not to any specific political practices (the type of resistance represented by much of the political performance of the 1960s), but rather resistance to representation in general, a more abstract and difficult strategy.”
Carlson then quotes Auslander quoting Lyotard:
“To hang the meaning of the work of art upon its subsequent political effect is once again not to take it seriously, to take it for a an instrument useful for something, else, to take it as a representation of something to come; this is to remain with the order of representation, within a theological or teleological perspective. This is to place the work of art, even when one is dealing with non- or anti- representational works, within a (social, political) space of representation. This leaves politics as representation uncriticized.”
“Instead of providing resistant political “messages” or representations, as did the political performances of the 1960s, postmodern performance provides resistance precisely not by offering “messages,” positive or negative, that fit comfortably into popular representations of political thought, but by challenging the processes of representation itself, even though it must carry out this project by means of representation. It is of necessity, says Auslander, “an elusive and fragile discourse that is always forced to walk a tightrope between complicity and critique.”
Carlson, p. 155
Auslander, Philip, Presence and Resistance: Postmodernism and Cultural Politics, in Contemporary American Performance, Ann Arbor MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994, p. 31.
Judith Butler recommended “a move away from an attempt “to solve this crisis of identity politics,” by concentrating on who and what wields the power to define identity, “to proliferate and intensify this crisis” and “to affirm identity categories as a site of inevitable rifting.”
Carlson (198), quoting Butler “The Force of Fantasy” in Differences, 1990, vol 14, pp 148-9.