performance process is iterative!

27 Mar '11

I’ve been thinking about the whole process of creating a performance (from nothing or from a composition) and what has really worked in the projects I’ve been involved in.

I used to think that the process would be something like:

  1. Create (or get a composition)
  2. Rehearse
  3. Performance
  4. Performance

and so on, where each performance gets better each time until you’re awesome.

Now I actually think that it’s more like this:

  1. Create opportunity and concept
  2. Development and Rehearsal
  3. Performance(s) and Feedback
  4. goto 0.

This whole process actually needs to be repeated for the performance to grow! After a performance or a series of them, I need to step back and reevaluate the work from the ground up and give myself the opportunity to weed out things that sucked and change A LOT of the conceptual work if necessary.

I think that the extra words in my new process reflects how I’ve changed since finishing university in 2009 (also since teaming up with visual artist). At uni, the opportunities for creating works were always obvious, a recital, a thesis, etc. In the non-academic world, you have to make your own and the concept for a performance project is significant to how an audience will react to it. “Percussion Recital” is a label, not a name.

Feedback is another huge thing which has changed since I left uni in Canberra. Feedback in a class is usually from an expert in the same field as you. Feedback outside of school is either from a lay audience or from an expert in a different field from you (i.e. I’ve often had dramaturges or visual artists talking to me about my musical performances). Sometimes it’s hard to listen to these opinions because they might not see that you made certain decisions because of the musical/historical context or tradition that you belong to. I think it’s SUPER important to try REALLY hard to understand what they are saying for exactly the same reason.

PS, for me, development and rehearsal are kind of the same thing, rehearsing a work informs how it is composed and so I can’t expect to nail down a composition before rehearsals start.

PPS, this is my take on Eric S. Raymond’s famous quote “Release early. Release often. And listen to your customers”.