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Day 2 intensive week 2: performing detention @ Metro Arts

A wonderful first day with Iraqi artist Towfiq Al Qudy.  Its really great working with professional people who have the same passion and organic, intuitive processes that you have yourself.  For this weeks intensive I have bought in all the nasty objects/materials - barbed wire, wire fencing of different types, lots of chain and of course my signature healing objects - feathers, crystals, sand, ochre.  And it wouldnt be Alicia's art if a chair didnt feature!  This time I have also bought in white scrolls of different sizes, to see what projection can do, rather what I can do with projection.

Upon our discussions and filling Towfiq in on the Friday Night showing, and learnings there from, we both will attempt to create a cage in the shape of a human skull as we both agree detention of the mind is the long lasting effects, regardless of your apparent freedom.  The performer will emerge out of the cage, which will open/split in half.  Whilst I cant conceive how to build such a thing, thankfully my collaborator can and Im comforted in the knowledge that Racheal Konyi, architect and theatre designer can assist with the plan and I know a few builders who could help out with the practicals should we need.  Shout out to Chris Condolean from Arriva Homes, Brisbane.

The most apparent thing about the detention experience so far is that I have not experienced detention - so how can I perform it?  I have in some ways of course, violent relationships, addiction, self esteem - self imposed in many respects.  So I realised that perhaps my role in this production is to find the Detainer in this story and the humanity that exists within.  During the experiments I wondered, how can people show no compassion to other beings in traumatic situations, it was against my very will to assert authority, in a uncaring way.  

After speaking this with Towfiq, he helped me to understand that this was the very thing I needed to portray - the idea, rules and system of detention is inhumane, not (necessarily) the people.  I wondered a lot about this last night and early today, and came to the conclusion that somewhere along the way people decided that not only was the detention to be the punishment but the treatment of the prisoner/captive was to be violent also.  Its interesting really because from historical references on Australian history, once the criminal had served their sentence they were considered free, able to buy land, tend farms etc.  Nowadays, we limit just about everything they can do upon release.

What happend?

How did a more 'progressive' human become more barbaric over time?

On a lighter note, and God knows I need them in this work, Im soooo excited as I have three professional performers coming in today, OZFRANK trained (of course), Tracey Kaye, Chelsea Coruthers and Tara Heard.  Magda Labuda will come in to photograph training and improvisations.

Enough for now xo

Posted by Alicia Melonie Jones on 4/16/13

the week that was

Well its been an amazing week creatively and professionally, of course in my life these things go hand in hand.  

Yesterday (Tuesday in Australia) was an amazing discovery of effective process for creative development - working with Tara Heard, Ross Barber and Tracey Kaye, all Australian artists, the gals OZFRANK performers and Ross, well established visual artist.  We began the physical exploration of THE ROPE, Ross' response to a poem by Baudillaire, regarding the suicide death of Manet's 11 year old assistant Alexandre.  Ross' reponse is in the voice of Alexandre's mother and is a riveting piece about culture, class, suicide, child sex and infatuation.  Training was sensational, Ive learned you must work with professional performers who all 'speak' the same physical language.  Watching back the footage last night, I am totally impressed and shouting from the rafters that the FSAK Actor Training Method, a development of the Suzuki Method of Actor Training, is THE only holistic method for developing theatre-based performers.  If only I could post video here....  A very big thankyou to QPAC for the use of Merrivale St Studio, and for J&J for organising it for us.

Further to the great experience yesterday was the work in progress showing for performing detention.  Again, really well received by the public, two exciting experiments unleashed (interrogation room and the confinement cell) and its potentials for performative delivery.  Think in lines of good cop bad cop, I learned how easily people are compliant when authority is asserted.  I learned that when given an opportunity most people would talk rather than write.  I observed my internal impulses of exuding empathy and sympathy, and the 3 days of debrief after, enabled me to be clear about the difference of those two things - thanks to ex-pat Loretta for this one.

What became clear is that the design of prisons, or any urban environment for that matter, is key to the experience of its users.  I learned that a person who is an engineer for prison construction in Australia, spent three years as a Refugee in Deutschland and whose family, of Polish descent, lost members in the Holocaust.  I glimpsed how easy it is to enjoy the roll of Detainer and this authoritarian roll is my next research goal for intensive 2 - next week at Metro Arts.  

In speaking with writer Michael Gurr, he offered that you must decide on the time when research ends, as it can by its very nature, be endless.  He also recommended the Safety Net team - an artist/mentor + a person who is most definately not an artist, and who is distanced enough from you personally to ask straight up questions.  I have now formed my team.  The other piece of info that was vital to my practice, and the content I work in, was the reset ritual - to avoid the depression that follows 6months of nothing but intense immersion in genocide, war, violence, sadness et al.

My final thought for the day will be from one very clever and respected lady working in the Australian Prison Research & Performance studies, Linda Davey, who reminded me:  "Alicia, you are the Artist.  You are not the therapist, the counsellor, the trauma specialist.  Your job is to make the art.  Just do that."

And so I will do that just.

Posted by Alicia Melonie Jones on 4/10/13

And today

And today Ive realised with great confusion for my southern hemispshere counterparts that Americans display their dates in that opposite format.  How does one change that at all - confuses the heck out of audience locally when utilizing American programs.  Anyhoo had a great evening with Suzon Fuks and James Cunningham aka IGNEOUS.  We discussed much of their recent American trip and the extent of saturated consummerism that swells there.  Strange how much of the world knows this, yet we still buy into the disposable culture and follow them into every war imaginable - with a they know best mentality.  

Well I for one do not think the American government knows best and certainly does not speak or act on my behalf.  Infact neither does my government most of the time, nor the war mongerers and ludicrously weatlhy companies that maintain the military complex.  I wonder what would happen if people within Australia started receiving cold calls from Military recruiters.  How is it that American people allow this to occur?  Are there people who lobby against this? What of your education system?  Do you really think that freedom to buy a particular brand of cola is related to this so called liberty and land of the free?  What are you free of?  Free from......

I think most of us Westerners are trapped, psychologically controlled, and half the people dont know it, the other 25% dont know what to do about it and the small reminder work tirelessly to raise awareness and educate ourselves and our societies.  Did anyone ask you if they could use your money to bail out the banks?  Did anyone ask you if they could use your money to build more deadly weapons to test on unsuspecting communities in another part of the world?  Did anyone ask me how I felt about the US Military placing a restricted fort in the middle of my country?

Yep, its one of those days - Im so grateful I can read and feel safe in expressing my opinions, even if someone is tracking the key words!!!!

Make Art not War - Alicia

Posted by Alicia Melonie Jones on 4/2/13

Well today

Well today is my first time writing for this blog.  Its Easter Sunday in Australia so its been a relaxed and partly rainy day.  I have just submitted my residency application for Paris, for what is sure to be an extraordinary opportunity for the lucky artist.  Ive enjoyed creating the profile page, the process of which enables you to really professionalise your thinking.  

In preparation for the upcoming showing of performing detention on April 5 at Metro Arts, I stumbled across the ARTslant site and viola, the immediate follow on culminates with this.  For anyone who is interested or has experience with detention (directly or indirectly), please join the group performing detention on facebook.  We are aiming to open dialogue on the processess of detention and promote the alternatives.  

Thank you ARTslant for this new experience, a new perspective gained in the field of professionalism.

Lots of love the artist

Posted by Alicia Melonie Jones on 3/31/13

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