Alissa: When does a performance start?
Grete: When the audience enters.
A: You have mentioned that your performance balances between the factual and the metaphorical (fictional), could you shed some light on how exactly?
G: There is a studio space, some practical choices there and ways how to get through things as a performer making the thing happen, while doing it. And there are things that I thought of, that I lived through, things that I bring into the studio - those are mostly not things that I can physically bring, so I guess once they happen to be in studio they can be called metaphors - a sensation of a certain thing, something noticed regarding how a person is, how one relates to the other, thoughts that came and got stuck.
A: What makes you drawn towards the subject of crying/laughing? Are these two notions separable or you treat them as two sides of the same coin?
G: It is a burst - a thing that exits a body as a container in a form of sound and energy and movement. I have not much thought about laughter. It is similar but also different.
A: What is the difference between laughing and smiling for you?
G: Laughing is a burst, smiling is condensed in its potential or is not ‘that much there yet’ and possibly will never be there, so that for the laughter to appear.
A: What do you value more?
Recently when G. has been doing run-throughs then after the “pop song” and before the “threshold” there is silence. And then slowly the silence is filled with laughter-crying and crying-laughter and I can see her face; blood runs in her face and her facial muscles are in an in-between territory. We missed that before, now we have it.
A: How do you work with limitations?
G: I sometimes forget to work with them and fight against them, letting that become the topic (that usually makes me do bullshit and go sideways and, then, a person from outside who says, ‘hello, you are totally off’ helps). Sometimes I forget about limitations and just do from how I think or imagine or feel like I would like to do.
A: Could you describe the body on stage? Will you be the body? Are you embodying some characters? Do you see someone else as the body?
G: It is my body with inserted and lived through experiences. It is a woman. In this woman there is aggression, there is longing, there is freedom, there is solitude, there is pain.
A: Within the pop song scene you establish/propose a different kind of space (space within a space) as the opposition/transformation of the space that you and the auditorium were and continue to be in. I am very curious to hear more about the spaces/space that you establish within the performance. What kinds are they, what is the different, what do they have in common and mainly what does this transformation give?
G: There is studio space; a silent calm space of a grave where one is alone; there is a vast space - a field. The spaces are transforming because one opens the possibility for the other one to exist. When one ends, something else needs to happen/begin.
A: Within the performance you use not only your body but also your voice. Does your voice belong to you or would you say that this voice is a collective one?
G: I think it belongs to the piece. It is a voice that was discussed in terms of how to use it and is influenced firstly by the team of this work, then, by the city and venue, where the piece is being produced and for sure the education and experiences (professional and not) that I went through during my life.
A: Have you found your voice?
G: I think it is an endless process. But, yes, I can talk. Until someone or me tells to myself to shut up. It is great to talk, when there is someone there, who listens. So, one of the main role in allowing me to talk is on the side of the listener.
A: Are you a master of your voice?
G: Yes. There is no one that can master my voice better than I do.
A: Do you see voice as a unique discipline or is it a part of some other constellation/system?
G: It is part of body - one of its functions that connects to the very basic of the body being alive - the breath. I do not have a discipline for voice. I studied music, when younger, so I am not afraid to use my voice. And now, for this work, I was inspired by having spent time in the archives, listening to traditional Lithuanian wailings.
A: What role does your voice play in your performance?
G: It calls for something that is not there. It sets dynamics, it helps to express the mood, it can show the nervousness, the fragility, also, power.
A: How important is the relation between gender and voice, voice and identity for you within this piece? Please expand.
G: I feel that it is a work made by a young woman born in Eastern Europe living not only there. But I think also in each woman there is a man, a child, some kind of animal and more things...
I would more comment on Eastern Europe with a distance way of living. I think what signifies it for me is seeing a layer of absurdity, sometimes helplessness in things and having the ability to laugh from it. In a certain way.
A: What is the relationship between the voice and the body on stage?
G: They support each other.
A: Is the body on stage a collection of experiences (embodied and fictional) or is it something else, what?
G: It is collection of experiences, it is what fulfills that is agreed to be done on stage.
A: Is it tricky for you to be inside your performance and outside (as a director) at the same time? What helps?
G: Yes. When inside: intuition and having another person who says ‘what is there’. When outside: thinking, talking, writing, trying out tasks, listening to music, imagining, not thinking of this.
Sorry, I just checked my notes and there is a comment about the last run-through and it states that there was too much voice over all. So I am afraid that we have to limit G freedom of voice usage. How does that make us feel?
A: Is sadness a part of the concept of the performance? And if you approach this subject, do you also work with helplessness, grief, pain, loss and disappointment? In which ways and will that be visible to the spectator?
G: Yes, all of them are in the work, I think. I do not work specifically with one or another, I think they are merged into each other. Spectator will witness experience of the performer and empathically be drawn towards or away from the experience of a performer. Or the spectator will not care, will think something else.
A: How transparent is your working strategy during the performance?
G: Now there are fragments of different things composed using musicality. Reasons for them are not there or they exist by me trying to ‘fast catch ‘the essence’ of what causes ‘a state’ (through sensation, physicality, thought)’. ‘The essences’ seems not possible to be caught in the same way each time, so many times I enter through some backdoors or a window and that changes how what follows will follow. Some entrances happen through the main door. The audience see both. The strategy is trying to understand (acknowledge, process, realize) what the work is, while doing it (in real time). Or sometimes going blind.
There are no ‘staged reasons’ - a trigger that makes me cry is a button that I press. I jump into ‘states’. Because I see no point in ‘faking reasons’ in the studio. The states or maybe even more dynamics, liveliness of them and what they can produce is my interest. And along doing that sometimes comes the thought of ‘yes, it is me producing this in a studio’. Even if I cry thinking of war, this is my choice to do this and I have no clue what it is to be in the situation, when really there. I think this attempts to be transparent within the parts as ‘rest, appear, disappear’, the hosting.
Audiences witness dynamics - I make this work mostly through being inside of it (perspective of a performer) so audience get to witness my way of listening and hearing things (that produces choices of decisions that this certain material will open the space to this other certain material to exist).
If we fail or not fail we will be relieved when the audience comes, so far we have been imagining and theorizing about the presence and the impact of the audience. I hope it all ends in a disaster, in a silent and positive one.
A: How do you relate to stillness?
G: I think it does not exist. That is why it is much fun to try to reach it, fake it.
A: What is your relation to crying?
G: I sometimes feel like crying is a way to put me really on the ground so that I can be in time, space, condition, situation where I am at this very moment. Crying is a release so it helps with that. Also crying can be a way to dream, almost get high by exaggerating some situation.
A: What lays beyond the action of crying or what do you desire to discover? And does this something hide beyond the formal act of crying?
G: I am interested in ‘the physical reality’ of a sensation or a state or way of being in a situation. So, I mostly approach crying in what it does to a person or to a form/structure and to the present moment. Not so much crying as a form. Maybe now in the jumps part, crying is ‘formal’, actually. But I try now to bring it back to its initiation or find out what it actually can be in where it currently happened to be. If melody or rhythm or form takes over I would like to see how that also ‘has a feeling’ / can be ‘lived through’.
Thee Chapter will have the most colossal importance, I tell you that. Just observe and you will see.
A: Within the rehearsal period you have developed a methodology where you have
different kind/parts of materials that you handle. You do separate these different parts and each of them has a name: bursts, fluent, the calling…Could please take me through the collection of these parts and tell me more about each of them.
And what happens to these parts now?
G: Calling is a space where I call someone who has died.
Burst is when energy or some things collected exit the body.
Flow when things go on, never stopping - it is not a separate part but something I would like to apply in the dynamics of the work (so that, then, a stop could really happen).
Then, there are modes that were there by default and formed the work: boredom - it produces dynamics of the work that were partly incapacity to decide or finish a thing and it can potentially produce surprise. Then, there is uncomfort/unease of being in front of the audience and a wish to ‘explain’ or ‘get closer’ (that produces the part of being a ‘host’ - saying ‘rest’, ‘appear’, disappear’ - attempt to be generous in letting the viewer enter what I am doing. Also thinking that the viewer is dear and being kind to one. There are also some characters and situations into which I fall and follow it from within (or try to).
There is now a part of conscious movement that arrived from the exercise of ‘I push myself to cry, the moment when the tear appears, I go into the dance’ or sometimes I would do this exercise thinking ‘Grėtė, this is now your last dance’. The part of conscious movement is a phrase composed using the material that came from this exercise. So, I do the movement and try to ‘recreate’ what it was back then, when it appeared. It feels like entering history, somehow. And, then, there is a layer of crying on top of it (this somehow feels like bringing the part to the current time). This part falls out of other materials - it has no character and situation.
A: What is your desire that you hope to achieve with this performance?
G: From the audience: empathy, sensation, confusion. From myself as performer: discipline and curiosity. As choreographer: conscious thinking, insisting.
Halloooo!! Time to rest, guys.
Photo: Alissa Šnaider