I'll probably keep writing reflections that are rolling around in my head as they relate to my musical work, in bits and pieces, over the next couple of months as I prepare a program in November at The Baroque Room. Among the discoveries that are still on my mind days after leaving Reggio Emilia is how much every act of an ensemble requires its individuals both to listen as potential leaders and as supporting actors, and there are awkward spaces between these two positions, usually at transitional moments, when creativity is crucial. These moments require a fast mind for switching positions and for generating material - inventing - in ways that serve either a launchpad for the next 'bit' or as a component of what's preceded it. If I had had more time, I'd probably think a lot more about the constellation of characters and how to create a repertoire of responses that best electrify the relations between crucial parts of the ensemble. A great example of this from the final show was a moment in which the Signora was carrying on with her desired suitor, the Capitano, whilst being serenaded by Pantalone, an unwanted suitor, and in the midst of it, her servant, Pedrolino, wrapped her scarf around his face and posed as the Signora. This was one tiny moment in a larger arc, but it heightened the comedic tension between all of the characters and contained within it a lot of possible ways both for the serenade to continue and attention to be given to the Signora-Capitano pair OR for new funny interactions to develop between Pedrolino and the suitor. It was beautifully acted and placed perfectly in the arc of the scene.
For someone (like me) who spends a lot of time trying to find just the right thing to say in a grant and the rest of one's time working to get very complicated music 'right', I'm not often in a position to invent material that isn't designed specifically to go from point A to point B. What truly great invention needs, at least in the development stage, is a willingness to explore unlikely, perhaps outlandish, beginnings and consequences, all of which are rooted in the honest humor of every day life for whatever character you're portraying but which nonetheless is funnier if it traces a curvy, dotted, forth and back, full of rhythmic play and energy sort of path. It's my hope to find opportunities to let my mind wander these paths more and to reclaim some of the playful flexibility from the 1000-word-limit, follow-the-directions processes that dominate my life as it is. If I'm lucky, maybe I can still be a zanni for at least 5 minutes per day!
This project was made possible by the generous support the McKnight Foundation through the Next Step Fund grant, awarded by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.