Sunday, 21 February 2010

Rilke's Duino Elegy IV

Here is an example of cutting at its finest. I wanted to translate this important poem (important for puppeteers at least), and use some of it in the final scene of 'Stomunculus the Homunculus'. So in rehearsal we cut it down to about three stanzas, keeping in the 'relevant' bits about Angels and Puppets and corridors between world and toy. But after we tried it, with all this talk of Angel and Puppet and the cycle of transformation, it became quite clear that we were starting to bombard our audience with 'interpretation'! So in the end we cut the whole thing.
But it was a worthwhile attempt at trying to use Rilke on stage, if it was only to become a hamfisted one.

Below is my translation of the poem. Not the entire thing, and I take a few liberties with words, such as using 'dummy' for 'spielteug'.

Duino Elegy IV

O living trees, when is your winter?

We are not in tune with the migrating bird.

Overslept and overtaken

we drag ourselves up into the wind

and drop onto an icy pond.

Birth and death weld in our minds.

And the lion power-prowls majestic,

alien to the meak.

But we, as our minds fix on one thing,

feel the tug of another thing. Combat

is our neighbour. Lovers always tresspass

on eachother’s space – despite the promise

of a sprawling hunting-ground called Home.

We don’t know the actual contours of our feelings,

Only what crafts them from the outside.

Who has not quivered before the curtain in his heart?

As it opens onto a parting scene, the familiar

garden swaying softly then…enter, the first dancer.

No, not him! Enough of this. However light

His moves; beneath this mask is a man who

scuttles into his home through the kitchen.

I won’t tolerate these half-filled masks.

I want the Puppet. The puppet is full. I will

bear its bulge, its wires, its wooden face.

Here. I wait.

Even if the lamps go out and a voice from the dark

Says to me: “That’s all” – even when the stage

Drifts emptiness in a grey draft towards me, even if

my silent ancestors do not sit with me, nor women neither,

or the squinting boy with brown eyes.

I’ll still sit here. You can always watch.

Is it too much to ask

to sit before a puppet stage and stare

so intently, that, to realign my sight

an angel is forced to ignite these stuffed actors

to life?

Angel and Puppet. At last, a true theatre.

Where the things we divide by being here

Come together. Then, from our lives

Will arise the entire cycle of transformation.

Above and beyond us

The angel plays.

The dying

Must know that all we do is a lie, where everything

Is forbidden to be itself –

O, hours of childhood,

When more than the past glowed behind every shape,

And what was formed before us, was not the future.

We felt our bodies grow and already yearned to be

Bigger, half for the sake of those with nothing more

Than their bigness. But even then, we were in love,

When playing alone, with things that endure. We stood

In the corridor between World and Dummy,

In a space which, from the first beginning,

Had been established as a pure event.

Who displays a child as he is? Who moulds

His death out of clay, or leaves it on the shore

For the water…Murderers are easy to understand.

But this? That death, the entirety of death, before

Their life has even begun, can be

Embraced so gently, without the fear of being,

Is inexpressible.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Ursonate @ Shunt, 13th February 2010

On the 12th and 13th of February I performed 'Ursonate' at the Shunt Vaults.
On the first night (Friday) I had to go it alone as my compatriots were busy looking for or doing actual jobs. The audience received it rapturously (most likely because it was performed in the Reading Room right next to the new bar set up in the corridor). It was the first time I've had an audience whoop and cheer during a reading. I felt a bit like John Coltrane.

The following evening it was Dummy Company's time to shine and Shaun and Sophie took centre-table with various objects and puppets. This time we did the whole sonata and, having only just improvised it an hour before, the final movement went down a treat as we debuted our new 'Golemming' puppets (new for Stomunculus the Homunculus).

A Golemming

The final presto sounds a bit like techno music, so I decided to throw a little Golemming party complete with party poppers, shaving foam and a little glitter ball. Aside from the laughter, the audience were the complete opposite to the night before, as they focussed intently on the puppets.

Here is an audio recording of the Saturday 13th performance:

URSONATE@SHUNT (13th Feb, 2010)