“An amazing opportunity to create”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we artists, teachers, dancers, musicians and singers have been pressured to create. It was even presented as the biggest opportunity to create the best art ever! While everyone else has time to take care of themselves, to freak out, to think through, to be alone and think about how they feel, to feel where they are, what they should do, worry about health and safety, worry about their families. Artist in the same time, have been immediately directed towards this idea that they should create now because it is the best opportunity of all time! You happy days! Someone said to my wife, „I can’t wait to see what you create during this time”.
Wait a moment. We are like everyone else. We need our time. We need to figure out things too. I need to find a way to live. I need to find my own balance. We need to figure out where our money will come from. As if that pressure was not enough.
“Are you a teacher?” You have an amazing opportunity to teach online. „Artists, do things online!”. Through so many years we’ve been developing an understanding of how to cultivate the act of „being together”. The act of working with someone, for someone, in reaction of each other. When there is at least one other, there is an audience. At least one individual. Person to person. Working with human beings.
Of course, transferring to online is very attractive and practical. Creating online gives an amazing opportunity. But how? In what amount of time, as an artist, should I learn how to use video? How to use sound? How to use light? How to frame a picture? We need time to learn. Is YouTube going to be the ultimate teacher? How many YouTube channels are there!? You need days, weeks, months to learn! According to one expert vlogger it takes one to two years. Of course, you need to learn through mistakes. But all of this during a pandemic, when it’s twice harder than in normal times. Well I’m saying it twice – it’s countless times harder.
Every performance has a different energy, and that energy depends on – of course the actors and what the performance is about, it depends on the audience, depends on where in the world the performance is taking place, depends on each individual and collective audience/group energy, it depends on the technicians and designers, depends on the production team. There is a relationship between performer and audience that shapes a deeper meaning of the performance. There is a dialog between the performer and audience.
Performing artists have been developing connections with audiences through years of practice and performances, and then suddenly from one day to another we are expected to be able to make workshops online, to create performances online and to create concerts online (wishing that maybe someone will donate some food… why didn’t anybody think of this!).
Actors, dancers, musicians… You need to learn to use your camera (lucky if you have one). You are going to use what you have at home. Do you have professional equipment? Do you understand anything about light? Sound? Direction? Editing?
Making online workshops, auditions and rehearsals is like performing in front of a camera obscura or performing in front of a keyhole. Live streaming to the keyhole hoping that there is someone on the other side.
State theatres have found the way to stream live performances (without a live audience). They have equipment with 5 cameras connected to a studio mixer with operators, and studio directors, sound systems with microphones. They have super fast internet, everything looks like amazing TV theatre! Which is great and important. But we freelancers with our poor equipment – laptop camera and microphone. How can we compete with that?
This is how it looks – Perfect! It´s an amazing opportunity to create amazing art in 2020.
Let’s do it!
Rafał Habel-Bloodgood, from Poland, is a musician, actor and teacher whose work is a culmination of 30 years of research, practice and performance in a unique genre of ensemble devised, music based – physical theatre. Rafal is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, known for his sensitivity, versatility and skills in improvisation. He has created and performed original scores for the theatre, accompanied live performance and has been a musician for countless performances.
Rafał plays on world instruments including the African Kora, Lithuanian Birbyna, Korean Kayagum, transverse flutes, hand percussion instruments and is a singer. He regularly records and produces his own music. He was an original member of the award winning Polish chamber folk music group Lautari, and in 2020 performed in Lautari’s 20th anniversary concert, broadcasted through The Polish National Radio Two/ Radiowe Centrum Ludowej. He is known as the only birbyna player in Poland.
Throughout his years in the theatre, Rafal has developed a profound understanding of the ensemble and theatrical development and with that, a knowledge of the connection between movement, voice, music, text and rhythm. He was a member of the internationally renowned Polish theatre company, Song of the Goat Theatre, from its inception in 1996 to 2018. Rafal has been a key collaborator in the devising process of almost all of Song of the Goat’s performances which have won numerous awards and critical acclaim throughout the world including the Edinburgh Festival “Fringe First” in 2006 and 2012. He has performed countless times throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, Mexico, USA and the UK, including in some of the world’s most prestigious Theatre Festivals.