In advance of Stacy Makishi's The Falsettos, we asked her about the show and her practice.
Would you describe your work as ‘theatre’ or ‘live art’, or do you find yourself at the boundaries crossing these concepts?
I’m often asked to define the difference between live art and theatre, and to choose which team I bat for? As a bonafide bullshitter, I will beg, borrow and steal from any form to tell the 'true story'. 'Creative truth' that is, which means, the kind of truth that will always deepen the mystery.
Do you find there is an element of friction between what is seen as the ‘staged’ of the theatrical and the ‘real’ of live art?
I love friction. I love the kind of action that happens ‘in between’ the cracks. Cracks are scary because there is moisture and mystery, paradox and ambiguity, fact and fiction, heat and friction.
People consider Live Art as ‘real’ but just because someone is bleeding real blood, it doesn’t make their work authentic. I can tell when an artist is ‘doing an imitation’ of another artist, or performing a spectacle in order to draw attention away from something too painful or too real. Now, that’s the story I want to hear, that’s the show I wanna see. I don’t care if ‘the story’ is told via theatre, sculpture or tattoo. For me, I know when art is real, because it makes me ‘come alive.'
What was the process you went through when devising the work, what compositional techniques did you use and how did you rehearse?
The compositional techniques I used were menopause, midlife and nervous breakdown... and did I mention deadline? The Falsettos was a mystery. I never planned it, but once it told me what it was, all I could do was wait and see. I’ve been working on it for a long time... but the end to this mystery didn’t come to me until about a week before opening night. My director fired herself because she thought I was planning to commit suicide with this show. It’s funny because people can make art about failure but people are not allowed to actually fail. I thought I was gonna die on stage. Live art becomes dead art, Stacy Makishi gets whacked!
Did you feel, when conceiving the piece, that there was something that had to be told, or did this develop organically in the process of creation?
No matter how many times I try to write a show about something else, it always ends up being a another story about me. And not just any story about me, but the story I do not want to tell. I’ve heard it called duende or the daemonic urge, where a work has a distinctive personality and will of its own. It will take you into places inside yourself that you do not want to go, it will show you parts of your nature you do not want to discover, but in the end, if you really want to make the work, you must surrender to its will.
What’s next for you? What are you working on for presentation in the future?
I recently fired myself from being an artist and now I’m making more art than ever. I’ve got a new solo show next Spring called Stacy Makishi and The Entire Population of China Presents: A Little Less Lonely. Then in the Autumn, we have a large scale multimedia public arts project that will animate both Soho Square and Newington Green, Hackney. Watch this space!
Stacy Makishi's The Falsettos is showing at Arnolfini on Saturday 19 October, 7.30pm. Full details can be found here.