Sunday, June 06, 2010

GSW9: Festival Report II


From Tess Elliot comes this news about Saturday at the festival...
The Symposium this afternoon though was a very nice experience. I ended up sitting next to Professor Bell and the participants were the three main artists of the Dutch Show (which was already sold out with a waiting list tonight, so I did not get in). They were lovely people [Pauline Kalker, her partner Herman Helle, and their sound man/composer Ruud van der Pluijm...] The woman had relatives who died at Auschwitz which was her interest in doing it; all three of the people had grown up on the stories. Her partner made a living doing models, and that gave her the idea to use models as a stage. The sound man talked about the problem of scale - what sounds made it real, and what needed to be left out. They talked about using the language of film-making a lot, in how they used their cameras. During the talk, I learned they also did film or animation about WWI, and then a bear 'porn show' where they used models of the bear torsos with genitalia having sex, topped off by Professor Bell claiming an animation they did about the World Trade Center attack was one of the most profound statements he ever saw about that event. Of course everyone is going to try and look it up now and I haven't been to their web site yet. I will have to look up their names because I couldn't hear the introductions at first - they had the whole side open to the street because it was so hot (St. Ann's really IS a warehouse)...and the street noise kills my ability to hear. Some kind soul brought in microphones. Their sound guy looked very much like a Northern Renaissance figure. I was so cooked that I never even thought about getting my camera out. If I find the picture tomorrow, I will scan it before I go back out there tomorrow. I will send the reviews on the kids shows before I go out, and maybe even get the other shows done in the morning, too.

They talked about how acting out the terrible things the Germans did in those camps made them feel conflicted, but of course I personally see it as a duty to keep the terrible truth alive out there so it can't ever happen again. It wasn't about just Jews in my world; I was friends in Indiana with a family whose parents were both camp survivors: they were Polish Catholics all rounded up into the camps along with the Jews and homosexuals. Stella, their mother, had been a dress designer, but nearly starved to death working at the camp. Typhoid broke out right before the liberation, and they thought she was dead and threw her in the pile of dead bodies. She laid there for three days. Her best friend knew she was alive and when the soldiers came, she begged and pleaded for someone to follow her to the pile of dead bodies. Someone translated that she was saying "my friend is not dead," and sure enough when they got Stella out she had a wisp of a pulse. Stella met her future husband in Switzerland (he had been in another camp), and they had their first child when their ship to Canada ran aground off the Irish shore. They ended up in Indiana where I knew her five kids. Stella has since passed away, but her story will stay with me forever.

So I am still not sure about how important it is to distinguish the role objects play in a theater piece, but I sure know how important the story is and what an emotional wallop that particular truth is. That sort of duty is not fun for an artist, but necessary to our world. I applaud their efforts.
Now that is one dedicated festival-goer. Tess, those of us not able to attend, reading about your experience here, greatly appreciate you sharing with us! It's almost as good as being there, and we're avoiding the heat!