Pink Floyd's Brain Damage

It has been quite an interesting residency here at Bundanon. 

Today I started making work on the quartet… after 2 big sessions on technique earlier in the week (see my two previous blog posts about them!). 

One of the exercises we did earlier in the week was that I asked the performers to bring in text that moved them; that put them into a state. Anna chose the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage”, and we've decided to use that to inspire the whole work. Tomorrow I’m going to have 1 more session and we’re only going to use it to make work in, basically get a full draft of the score, and then I will write it out in full to distribute and I’ve got 3 x 1.5 hour rehearsals to get the work up, and POW we have it - dress rehearsal and performance.

The Dorothy Porter studio - ugg boots were a good a idea at this time of year.

The Dorothy Porter studio - ugg boots were a good a idea at this time of year.

The session today started late because we had to pull out diaries to discuss rehearsal period. After this, I took them through an improv based on visualisation warm up - didn't quite succeed as much as I though it could, but that's cool, we can work on that in the rehearsals - then Alina and Anna presented the music that gave them emotive responses, I blindfolded Alina first and she danced solo so we could try emulate her after. She chose a pop song, very different to everyone else's choices, and really let go in her movement. We were all a bit hung over from the previous night's booze... James and I hosted a dinner party (Pene Bolognese) and we invited the visual artist working in one of the other studios across the quadrangle to join us (Deanna Hitti). Deanna brought a flan and Dan showed us this hilarious clip from Tropfest 2011;! 

But back to the workshop.

After Alina's solo, we tried to emulate her but I daresay the red wine got the better of us and there's only so much Spice Girls one can stand so we moved on to Anna's solo, an excerpt of Prokofiev's Violin Concerto in G minor 2nd movement. Her movements were very lyrical, and expressive - and we followed them but again, hungover brains just couldn't cope with much.

The hangovers were SO worth it. (Alina, Dan, Me, Anna and James) 

The hangovers were SO worth it. (Alina, Dan, Me, Anna and James) 

No matter - all that free improv and visualisation and body awareness stuff was just warm up and we were ready to get serious.

Concert's on next month, and we've got nothing at this stage.

We pulled out the text Anna gave at a previous session (it's the 4th verse of Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage");

The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me

I found the work on youtube so we had a listen;

By this stage I knew everyone's strengths and weaknesses in movement and creation, as well as the roles in performance they're comfortable with when it comes to improv (leading, following, aggression, disruption etc etc). As we listened to the track I could see in my mind's eye the opening of the work and hear (in my mind's ear) the music they'd be playing, so as soon as the youtube clip stopped playing I put the director/composer/maker hat on and got them to position music stands, chairs and music instruments in a certain formation and told them a score they'd have 3 and a half minutes to execute.

And they did it. And loved it. It involved very simple movement and positioning instructions that related to the theme in the lyrics (confusion, imposter, finality of release) and very simple yet specific music instruction. They memorised it as I told them and I only had to give very light instructions during their realisation of the score. BAM we had our opening.

We sat down to discuss staging of the opening, whether or not it should have changes, how the rest of the work would be structured, what sort of performance techniques we'll employ. Unfortunately I'm losing Anna today so she won't be at tomorrow's session, but she understands where the work is starting, where it's going, and how we're getting there. 

Tomorrow we'll block/compose the whole 8 minute work, using textual, aural and physical cues to create form. We've already got 3.5 minutes of it, and what we've got has really set up what's going to happen in the rest. By Wednesday morning I'll have distributed a script/score (similar to what I did for a performance James and I did for Guy James Whitworth's exhibition in Mardi Gras) which we'll use to rehearse with, and hopefully be able to whittle down to an A3 sheet so we can just use that as "parts" for the quartet to reference during performance on the night.

I'm really excited. We're already talking about staging, multimedia elements, they're all comfortable with using their voice, their instruments and movement... 

We went for walkies to the Ampitheater. 

We went for walkies to the Ampitheater. 

After this morning session I got to speak to Alina about her very inspiring solo work she based on a text about eternal multi dimensional love. I proposed we make that into a short solo she could perform either at this event or a future one - she agreed. I can't tell you how incredible her solo was when she did that in our improv session a couple of days ago... because it was authentic, both movement and expression of the text. It's a text very close to her heart as it relates to multiple facets of her life. 

Not bad - 2 works for the price of 1 short residency... and a number of hangovers...


RIGHT - Gotta Go, always love catching up dear, but I have music to write!


Andrew Batt-Rawden

Performance artist and composer. I have a background in music composition, festival direction, media publishing, some uni teaching here and there as well as performance art. I make websites for various projects that I'm involved with.