I spent the Easter weekend working with the Dramaturg,, Noreen Barnes, at her home in Richmond, VA. We were treated to a lovely Easter dinner of Duck, lovingly cooked by her husband David. We spent some very productive time editing the script "Confessions of a Synesthetic Sailor" for the January, 2015 show at Theaterlab, NYC..
Some of the moments we isolated involve very strong visual imagery. We discussed how this would be actualized, whether or not to enact physical representations or communicate through still images, video or engaging the audience in full immersion inside of a moment.
One example of this is a memory that is reconstructed of my mother, during her illness sitting in a red vinyl chair at the hospital, while receiving chemo treatments. I describe the numbers I see as a particular hue of color and feeling associated with these memories at times, depending on the day of the week.
“4 is a deep eggplant. I am sure there is a better description for that color…This is the same purply blue I get right in here like a hole in there (heart). My momma, quivering in the cold red vinyl chair, (Slide 12-Empathy 2 blue/wht guys in pain) Plastic nurse mechanically inserting the needle pumps bright red and gets more purple the sadder you get. Mondays are this bruised sad color. After she passed away they got darker. She died on a Monday, that day I saw no colors, only heard whites and greys. Why is my brain different? Is it all in my head? Yes. It is in the “eye” of my head.”
Noreen suggests the color should be specific (Eggplant or Violet?) as I actually see it it infuses in the I.V. the verb (pumps bright red) mirroring the color of the chair, an emphatic repetition for the audience. The object of the Red chair itself a character, accompanied by this nurse, now remains burned into my retina (the “eye” of my head). This could be illustrated onstage in various capacities- we discuss. The grapheme synesthesia conflicting grief of emotions for a loved one who passed on a Monday, still lived in full aspect with each passing calendar week. The numbing to this overwhelming loss expressed in color and sound.
“A neural basis of metaphors. A holistic approach to my head. A Tabula Rosa, a blank slate, or scraped tablet we are born with no previous mental content. Locke says we are blank that our identity is defined after birth later by reasoning. (Noreen points out this is like "Palimpsest" - paper or parchement prepared for writing on and wiping out like a slate. Paper which original writing has been effaced to make way for other writing. (Re-inventing yourself?)
Noreen then mentions a George Orwell history quote – “All history was a pa,impsest scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary”
One of the modes of performing stories is to pre-record a Video of myself and enter to join myself in the live real time with me live next to it, narrating as an accompaniment to my own perception. After a bit of time trying to compete with the video the “me” in the video gets up and exits, leaving the empty seat in the video. I continue to press on and finish the live telling of the story, making a commentary on the “me” that abaonded me. Noreen suggested some edits for the plot (or chronologuical order in which the story happens). Currently, I had the beginning of the piece open where I speak of the island life of influence technology has on us, really neding to live at the end of the piece. We made some cuts and moved some of the opening to the end of the play and still have unanswered thoughts about whether it will end with a sea chanty or not.
This came up in the dialogue about edits since in the premiere performance last June, I had sung some pieces deconstructed from Gertrude Stein’s Last Operas and Plays and old found sea chanties accompanied by Lucio Menegon (the guitarist for the show) But should these be original songs? I will defer to the sound design consultant Ethan Popp for more specific direction on this as the design meetings progress. The soundscape should support the florusing, nautical world I recall as a child. Much like former artists who have synesthesia, such a Miles Davis, the sountrack or songs I sing should be remnants of the auditory aspect of sense memory and the power it has to transform perception.
There are posibilites here for experiential and museum like theater upon the entrance of the audience and how the space will be set up. For example, some possible scenarious are to set up the 2 gallery rooms which are smaller than the main theater space. The audience may enter these spaces first and engage in a survey, such as what their “red” tastes like, or naming certain foods phonetically based on lexical gustatory interaction. Then they may progress into the main theater space for the "start" of the show.
The costume will somehow reveal technology that is novel and interactive. Noreen brought up the point that costume could either be added to or taken away throughout. The costume and set should interact at some point (such as fabric for “sails” which could be manipulated by the audience?) As we engage more fully in design meetings we will have an opportunity to hear from the set, costume and lighting design on potential new ideas. Likewise, the set design will be an integral part of these decsions.
I am a curious human