Arnolfini have asked me to do a little blog for them about my rehearsal process. They have been kind enough to let me use the Dark Studio last week to develop my new show, We Need to Talk About Bambi.
Although the work will be eventually shown in a forest or woodland, I needed to develop some first thoughts in a studio, privately testing out ideas, movements and thinking through concepts. I rocked up with a stack of books and videos to watch. Later on in the week I was joined by Karen Christopher, who was an outside eye to my work.
At this early point, parts of the show had been written, but I am interested in finding movements that supported the words on the page. I wanted to remove some of the text so that the movement spoke these words. So that I don’t need to rely on the words and that the movement paints a fuller picture.
With this new piece of work I am trying to convey a sense of melancholy. I see melancholia in children’s classic film, not just through the death of Bambi’s mother but also through a sense of sadness that comes with an acceptance that things change, that we get older, we move on, that spring will always eventually move into Winter.
Bambi is my starting point for this work but the themes I see are very diverse from environmental issues, to parental child relationships and how this might inform ones sexuality.
I see something queer in the film Bambi, this could be for many reasons: his cutesy disposition, his closeness to his mother or a sense of androgyny. I want to scratch the surface of this some more! I want to touch on my own upbringing and explore this (just a little).
I wanted to look at the animal behaviour of the deer. Karen and myself watched nature documentaries about deers rutting, We observed many types of movements of deers from the faltering, uncertainness of the young deers, to the almost possessed, gallop, jumpiness of female deer, when she is ‘in season’ to the statuesque stag. I want to try and take on these movements as the piece progresses. Karen and myself talked about in terms of trying on these movements for size, yet still being very much me. I am not trying to be a deer, but find a version of one that sits right for me. We talked about this notion being a constant recalibration, that I am always moving forward to the next stage or a new way of moving, moving in and out of deer behaviour – hybridism.
The movement in the piece will involve this constant shifting of balance, partly because the young Bambi keeps moving and near falling but also metaphorically interesting it tales me that life is fragile and we are all just trying to survive and try to be ‘good adults’.
We talked about the unruliness of nature and its lack of order and living with that complexity. Working in the forest inspires me because they are places that have been taken over. Karen told me of a German woman who liked to keep an unruly wild garden, every year she was fined for this. But as she liked her wild garden so much she figured this to be the price to pay, for having the wild space she wanted. Until one year, the local government realised that her garden was the home for many birds and butterflies and wild plants that were otherwise lost in the German city and so she was given an award. I like this story because it fills me with hope.
It was important to take these movements outside so we went to Ashton court to watch the deer and play around with some movements that we had created in the studio. On a practical level, David Curtis Ring had made me some exquisite high heeled hoofs. I needed to check if they were okay to move in outdoors and they seemed to work, although I think running will be difficult!
I am excited about where this project is going next, I know it’s still early days. I am doing a work in progress on Friday at Chapter arts Centre in Cardiff. I have also commissioned a small group of artists to make pieces in response to Bambi, partly this is about reducing the isolation of working alone, but also it is about watching the film Bambi through a queer filter, which I see but I wanted to open that out to others and see if they saw it too!
If you would like to come to that sharing of ideas, and insight into my process to this point, on December 14th at 3pm, then get in touch.
If you are keen to join in and write a blog entry for us then we’d love to hear from you. Please email email@example.com and show your interest.