Day Four of my R&D UNLIMITED Commissioned Project: Somebody's Watching Me began at 10am. We are in the Foyle studio at mac, Birmingham.
Present in today's session were: Claire Marshall (mac Birmingham), Rachael Veazey (Deaf Explorer), Ariel Fung (International Collaborator), Tina Barnes (Writer), Adam Rutherford (Assistant Choreographer), Amanda Wright (Dance Access Worker), Nao Masuda & Chris Bartholomew (Sound Artists), Shezad Nawab MBE (ASL Interpreter), and myself.
We began the day with a physical warm up led by Adam. Ariel and I then showed Adam the pieces we worked on during July, up until now. We went back to the Childhood Scenes, and looked at the part where our characters first meet in school as youngsters. With Adam's help, we polished up these parts to make them more realistic and relevant to the settings.
Moving on, we looked at the work we made on the 'Implant scene', and polished up on that too. For my part, we looked at how we would use the chair in this scene with dance elements, making sure that the dance came from a natural place, rather than added on top. For Ariel's part, we looked at emphasis on the movements, thinking about using Visual Vernacular to help convey the acting, to show the size, weight and texture of each instrument in her role as a surgeon applying the implant.
In the afternoon we were joined by our sound artists Nao Masuda and Chris Bartholomew. They had spent the morning working together in a separate room, experimenting with sound and finding ways to connect, as this was the first time they had worked with each other.
So after a formal introduction to our sound artists, and re-introducing the team to them, we had some small discussion about the project and I explained my visions for this project. I spoke about how we are exploring our identities as Deaf people, and that we want to help hearing audiences to understand about the Deaf world and what it's like. We want to create something meaningful, to show the real-life issues and and injustices.
Entertainment for the sake of it, is too common these days - it doesn't mean much, apart from providing an escape from reality or boredom. I want to create something that will make people think about what is happening.. something that will stick in their minds long after watching the show - and make them feel angry and take action against this unjust reality, if they are not already feeling this way.
"I want to create something that will make people think about what is happening.. make them feel angry and take action against this unjust reality."
After the formal introduction, we showed Chris and Nao all the work we had done so far. They had many ideas for how they will create sound and music to match the pieces we had. Then Ariel and I spent some more time polishing up our pieces.
After that, we had some paperwork and finance to do, signing forms and sorting out expenses for the week for everyone.
We had a coffee break, and took the opportunity to check out Nao's awesome instruments. She showed us a range of fascinating instruments including a series Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese Bells. My favourite was the Nepalese Temple Bell - a brass bowl-like instrument, except the material is not brass but a secret alloy that is created by monks in Nepal.
Here you can see Nao demonstrating this to Ariel. She would use a leather-coated wooden stick that she swirled around the rim of the bowl, and it would produce a vibrating energy that grew bigger and louder, the vibrations would travel through the body and the sound was absolutely incredible. I have seen this before when I worked with Nao last year, and it never fails to amaze me. Nao told me that this instrument is used by traditional Buddhist doctors as a form of alternative medicine - the frequencies given off the bowl would align with the body's frequencies and heal from within. It has supposedly been known to cure a range of diseases and stress, and even cancers.
Ariel and Nao also had a chat about Japanese and Chinese written languages and sign languages and the similarities between them. As Ariel is half-Japanese, they shared their knowledge of Japanese culture too.
At the end of today, Ariel and myself were pleased to find that we could talk with Nao and understand her quite well, because she's very Deaf-aware and has a basic understanding of sign language. We are really excited that we can form a good collaboration with each other.
END OF DAY FOUR
This project aims to develop a show that is accessible to Deaf audiences. We believe that Deaf people should have access to all arts and cultural events through British Sign Language and captioning services. For more information about upcoming events that are accessible for Deaf people (through BSL, captions) see the following links: