Semester 1 Narritive
Pilot is where I am best at learning. In this most recent 1/6th of my time in the program I have done nothing but continue to grow as a learner, as a human being aware of the world around me, and as a director and artist. I am making work that is better than it has ever been before, and I care deeply about it.
This year I am pushing myself to my limits, I am earning a total of 11.5 credits, half a credit away from being two full time students. I often feel overwhelmed, and work hard to keep myself in check by taking breaks, and regulating my time to make the best of it.
I wouldn't say that I had one big learning breakthrough this quarter, instead I believe that I had many small ones.
“When you rise up, you must sing songs.”
At the beginning of this year I decided that I was going to work on creating intentional work.
I set this goal trying to help myself create better art, and it has worked, but I think that I undersold the idea.
What I really wanted to do was create art that is important. Historically art has been used to speak against what the artist believes to be wrong. Post-election this became clearer to me.
I want to step up as an artist to make art that is not only meaningful but important and saying things that need to be said. I want to learn how to speak for groups that cannot speak for themselves, and express my ideas purposefully.
“Students connect and relate artistic ideas and work with social, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.” From the Pilot Art Rubric
When, in my first meeting with Kristine, she asked me to respond briefly, and I choose to pass at the moment. I feel like that was a mistake. There is so much history in art, so many ideas that I have read about and applied in my work. It is in the theater texts that I read about Theater of the Oppressed and The Theater of Cruelty.
This history is beautiful, because it’s connecting me to everyone before me who used these same ideas to tell their story.
I have been focusing on creating work in which the process is just just as important as the final product. The means by which the end is achieved is part of the art just as much as the anything else, and it often gets swept under the rug
Every moment from the start to finish of a piece of artwork is equal. The creation of a work should be just as beautiful as the final product.
At GIA this summer my RA, Matt, was incredible at asking questions. I do not consider myself very good at asking questions. (I am good at pursuing topics, finding and completing projects, and learning, but questioning is not something I do very often.)
Since I noticed that questions were important to learning I saw questions everywhere. Teachers use questions, students ask questions, people use questions to get to know each other.
I then realized that I ask lots of questions. I ask questions when I am working with actors on shows. I ask for clarification in math. I ask for rides. I ask for help.
What I don’t do often is ask hard questions, or ask myself questions.
Because of this I have been trying to ask more questions of myself and my art.
In the 2nd quarter I did this, I thought more critically about my art by asking myself questions about it. Questions are important to everything, and it is good to always be thinking about them and asking them.
A Final Thought:
Everything in my Pilot feeds into everything else. Art feeds English, English feeds Art, and even though Health is a bit more cut and dry is is in the mix too, simply because it’s something that I am thinking about.
“To be mastered the world must be named.”
- The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
This semester I began a study in King Lear. I started out by reading the play and two modern adaptations of it, A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, and Fool by Christopher Moore. I read sections of King Lear with actors, and worked on fully understanding the plot, characters and language. I was planning on writing an essay on the major ideas and themes in the show, instead I ended up doing a different kind of product.
I made an intense cut of King Lear focusing on the motif of sight, I retained only 8 characters, to keep the play tight and concise. Along with the cut of the play I did a series of character portraits, one for each character I retained. In each picture I portrayed the character. Posing as each of these full rich characters was interesting, it was a micro performance for me, developing my understanding of each character.
Next semester I plan on working with actors on my cut and possibly stage a few scenes. I will also read essays about the play, and make another, different cut.
This summer and fall I created Portrait. It is made up of three videos--Portrait: Part 2,3, and 4--each an improvised movement piece. The three performances are very different and each explores ideas of their own, all three, however, are united under the shared meta theme of being about performance.
This was one of my first international foray into making work that is meaningful before it is a piece, instead being given meaning after the fact.
I created a version of Portrait for the art show and for submission to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Where it played the role on an installation. I set up a large scrim in the Pilot room and hung tulle from the ceiling, creating two extra projection surfaces in the room. This was so that I could use three projectors, to project each of the three parts of Portrait along with their artist statement and the statement for the whole piece. For the art show I opened the windows in the Pilot room so that the room became cold, so that when you stepped into the room it was like entering a different world.
I have been creating a large scale piece of performance art entitled Zero Hour. This semester I focused mainly on the solo section of the show, but have been thinking about the other parts a fair amount too. In the half an hour solo I created an extended movement piece, a (soon to be) choreographed dance, a video, a few tips of the hat towards endurance based performance art, and a vocal performance.
I did three runs of Zero Hour this semester, along with a performance at a works in progress showcase at my dance studio. I slowly created the performance over the semester, adding sections and removing sections until I was satisfied with what the piece was.
The video acts as an introduction, and it matches the aesthetic of the rest of the show, so it can seamlessly run into itself. The movement piece is an exploration of space, and movement and really understanding how to get an audience to keep watching when a story is not being told quickly or without words or explanation. The dance acts as a climax and release of the energy that is built up during the movement. The most interesting piece for me though is the vocal performance, mostly because I don’t consider myself a singer and I feel like I end up singing. I use a loop pedal and speak a poem into the loop, slowly adding to a wall of sound and then singing over it, eventually I am left with nothing intelligible and I show a display of emotions.
After the solo a there will be a section in which the audience interacts/participates in the show, and that is my goal for next semester, to create a piece of audience interaction that gets the audience to think about what is important in the world, why it is, and what they should do about it.
At this year’s Theater Lab, I went in with the goal of doing something crazy, and left having directed the only realist play at the festival. That being said, I was very happy with the play I directed, and it may well be my favorite directing process that I’ve ever executed. But I still hadn’t met my goal. So after theater lab was over I adopted Libby’s theater lab play, Spinning.
Spinning in an absurdist drama, in a dystopic world, it’s also 7 pages long. I am working with Libby to expand and rework the play into an even better piece of material. With the help of two other actors we will be presenting it at the winter art show on January 6th.
This project is all about process, and theory, I’m working with ideas from theatrical movements from the past, such as Theater of Cruelty, an idea proposed by Antonin Artaud in his book Theater and It’s Double.
I am very happy with how spinning turned out. It looked great when we presented it at the art show. We were able to do it twice in succession, which was wonderful because a fair portion of the bookwork I did with the actors pointed towards that being an appropriate way to perform it.
I was incredibly happy with the process we went through to get to the final product, we spent an incredibly short amount of time actually working with the script. The first days of rehearsal were spent talking about the world it took place in and learning about characters, and playing on playgrounds. Then we took a day and blocked the whole thing start to finish with lots of little details and I had examples of things to show to inform the actors of what exactly I wanted them to be doing, but I also made sure that there was room for them to create their version of it all.
I worked with two theatrical theories in this production, the first was Antonin Artaud’s The theater of Cruelty, which is about expressing the theater outside of the words, instead using sounds and symbolism on the stage, which was exciting and will definitely be informing future productions that I do. The second theory was less developed and my own, I called it Dramatic Farce, it was created for Spinning and Spinning alone, because it was about the juxtaposition of the staging and bright colors, against the tragic story that the show tells.
The 20,000 Project
The 20,000 Project is the piece of movement that I am developing for Dance 32. It’s an ongoing improvisation exercise that I do with a group of performers. I find a piece of relatively neutral sound and play it while the performers do an improvisational movement piece. Then I expose the performers to stimulus, such as lights or props, or changes in the space to see how they react to each, and each other.
For Dance 32, I am working them to be able to create wonderful pieces of unaccompanied movement that lasts approximately 6 minutes. Which means that I’ve had to slowly decrease the length of the pieces every time we do them, and slowly phase the performers away from relying on the sound that is playing. This has been very successful and fun so far, after each piece we sit and have a short conversation about it where we discuss our feelings and observations about that specific piece, which is always illuminating for everyone.
The 20,000 Project has another purpose too. It will serve as the second act of Zero Hour. Where it will exist as a 45 minute piece with an ongoing loop of sound that the performers can add to.
I’ve been helping with Stage 16 again this year, as a highschool helper, I run the sets and props crew, and I directed a scene. Unfortunately 4 actors dropped out of stage 16, and my scene is a very complicated full ensemble piece, so for the sake keeping it simple for the middle schoolers we had to cut the scene. But I did create a complete scene, it’ll just never be performed.
Working with the sets and props crew has been fun, we don’t meet very often, but when we do I’ve always had something interesting to do, like building basic white models or the m&m’s lighting experiment.
At the end of last school year stage 32 went through a lighting upgrade, we increased the number of functional lights we can have hanging. In spirit of a new beginning in the lighting crew (many of the most experienced students had just graduated) we also took down, inventoried, and cleaned all the lights in our possession. This came with a call for a new lighting design for the theater, and I was the one who stepped up to create it. With support from Joe Sanguinetti and what I learned at GIA (Where I took a lighting design class) I created a new design for the U-32 theater.
The goal of the design was that it would function for everything, Variety Shows, Concerts, 8th Grade Plays, Presentations in the Auditorium, but was also customizable for mainstage shows. It isn’t quite there, but lighting designs are living designs and can be updated as needed, so I’ve had, and will have more, chances to improve it.
I’ve done a lot of work in the theater with the Lights, starting at the very beginning of the year, as this part of my narrative from last quarter suggests. The lights for the tempest were super fun, and I was able to help set them up a little bit. I lit 4 concerts this semester: U-32’s Middle and High School concerts, The Winooski Valley Concert (which I didn’t actually run the board for, but I set it up so that someone else without such an intimate knowledge of the lights could run the show), and One of the New Englands Dress Rehearsal. The dress rehearsal was my favorite to light because it was a series of soloists, so the amount of stage that I had to put light on was much smaller, and in my opinion looked much better than when the whole stage is packed with performers and covered completely in light.
I’ve also been using my lighting skills in rehearsals for The 20,000 Project. I experiment with how the performers react to the light, because when they are doing improvisation they look for external inspiration or stimulus to inform their performance. So the way that I set up the lights changes the way that they move. People seem to like what I create too, after seeing some of the lighting designs I put on stage for rehearsal, Heather has asked me to do lighting for a few specific Dance 32 pieces.
The People and Poet’s Heart
This summer I directed two short plays, The People by Susan Glaspell and Poet’s Heart by Maxwell Bodenheim, in three days. The actors came and lived at my house, we blocked, memorized, and polished the shows during that time.
Together the performances stood at a bit more than half an hour, involved 9 actors and had a fully functioning set. I called it guerilla theater, and planned on taking the plays on an unplanned tour of Montpelier, but due to bad weather we performed inside the Unitarian Church.
I utilized one of my favorite directing techniques heavily during this production, and had the actors do a few runs singing through the show instead of speaking the lines like they normally would. This breaks down actor’s self consciousness, inspires them to take more risks, builds community, and helps the actors develop a new understanding of the musicality of language.
Grand Point Weird
I went to GIA this summer. It was wonderful. I’ve never felt so totally engaged in a culture of creativity and art. You can only go to GIA once.
But I wanted to stay involved, so I signed up to help at Grand Point Weird (Grace Potter’s Burlington music festival). I went up to Burlington for a weekend in September (the 17th and 18th) for a total of about 20 hours. During that time a small group of students and I performed a movement piece that a class at GIA had created and ran a community mural painting that went along with a very large mural painted by Esteban del Ville.
My English credit for this semester consisted of my King Lear study, a few essays, some of script work I do with plays, and the reading on theatrical theory that I do.
I think English was my greatest Failure this semester, not because I didn’t do enough work, but because I didn’t do the work I set out to do well enough in the way I had planned to do it. At the beginning of December I identified all the work I was going to have done at the end of the semester, and, while most of it exists in some form, it doesn’t all exist in the format I wanted to to. I got overwhelmed by the end of the semester and English was what fell in the dust.
I had planned to write three essays: One about the themes and ideas presented by King Lear, one about why Shakespeare is so great, and one about art and meaning. I wrote the essay about art and meaning, but haven't performed any revisions on it yet. While I continue to think and take down notes about why Shakespeare is great, I haven’t made time or found the inspiration to write that essay yet. This frustrated me because I want to improve my essay writing skills but when I’m not getting to writing essays or not getting to revisions I don’t improve so in the coming semester I’d like to get better at self discipline. The essay about King Lear’s themes and ideas, turned into what I’m calling a production pitch, which involves a polished cut of the script, a document outlining what the production would look like and a series of character portraits. I feel like that project was much harder than writing an essay and gave me a much deeper understanding of the story and the characters.
During my exploration of the script of King Lear I had, on a few occasions, a few actors over to read sections of the play with me and talk about it. It was fascinating to talk to them because some of them had experience with the play before, and had a great understanding of the characters and others had no idea what the plot of the play was. So it was a refreshing experience to go from reading the play alone, to working with a group of intelligent peers to read and understand the play. When you are having shakespeare read to you you get different things out of it, because listening is different than reading. It’s much easier to appreciate the beauty of the language when it is read to you.
I read (or partially read) a bunch of books this semester. King Lear, A Thousand Acres, Fool, Theater and It’s Double, Dance, Sex, and Gender, Theater Games for Actors and Non-actors (which is actually a book about theater of the Oppressed), The Theater of the Oppressed, The Wasp Factory. There’s probably more that I am forgetting too. I really enjoyed reading all of them and I identified something that I’ve felt for a while, but haven’t really understood, this is the fact that I read materiel from an objective point of view and the ideas that I take away from a text and internalize are not necessarily the most important ideas to the author, but because they are the ideas that I understand best or identify with I care more about them. I’ve also noticed that as an effect of being in the Pilot program and studying theater, and avant-garde/experimental art puts me into a position where I read very niche material, so when I am talking about it with other people I really do have to fully understand it, because chances are the other person has no idea what I am talking about until I explain it well.
As a director I am constantly speaking and expressing myself so that the actors understand me and the information about the play that I believe is important.
Out of all the english standards I think that this is the hardest for me to talk about how I fulfill it, because I do so much talking, about all the ideas that work with in all my studies. I use it to communicate the ideas that are important in one study to people in a different project to connect them all. Everything informs everything.
I am earning two art credits this year for the following projects :
- Zero Hour
- The 20,000 Project
- Stage 16
- Extraneous performance and art work
This is one of the places where I excel most in Pilot, because I just want to create prolifically, without end. If I’m bored I end up thinking about these projects, they keep me up at night because I just want to keep thinking about it all.
At the beginning of the year I set a goal to make more intentional work, and I have been doing that but I don’t think that was exactly what I meant for my goal to be, I want to be creating work that is important and meaningful, and I believe that those are things that can only come after you know how to create artwork that is intentional. I want to be able to talk about issues with my art, I’ve spent some of this semester exploring Theater of the Oppressed, which is theater that addresses social issues and I am very inspired by the idea of that. But I want to be individual, I don't want to do Theater of the Oppressed, I want to do my own social art. That’s my goal for next semester: Make work that is intentional, meaningful, and important, because it addresses things that need to be addressed.
There is so much theory that exists in the art world. My particular example is from a section of Theater and it’s Double by Antonin Artaud where he talks about the language of theater and how everything on the stage has a purpose and sends a message based on where it is, what it looks like, how it interacts with the space, etc. The same goes for a painting or drawing, a line or color in any point on the page tells part of the larger story and adds something to the painting. Understanding the language of a medium is really how I am improving my art.
I am trying to make intentional art work and the first step to that is making intentional decisions.
Performing, Presenting, Producing
I created three pieces of work that were culminating projects for the Art Show. These three pieces, Portrait, Spinning, and King Lear Character Study, are some of the best work I have ever produced, both technically, and conceptually. Portrait in particular was a huge victory for me. It is a hugely technical installation, with three projectors running simultaneously, as well as having a complex setup with loads of fabric. It is also a very conceptual piece, I can talk about it’s theory for ages, but a viewer can also do that is they want to because everything that there is to know about the piece is presented in the text.
The work I did on Zero Hour is very similar, but has been a much more calculated project, I would perform sections and then decide whether or not I actually wanted that piece to be part of the greater production. I have 4 videos of Zero Hour on my youtube channel each in various stages of completion, totaling for about an hour and a half of performance. There are also many other videos of performances that I facilitated or created myself.
Everything informes everything. All my Pilot projects are connected at the edges. The ideas of Theater of Cruelty that I use in spinning are applicable to Portrait: Part 3, and the way that I performed all of Portrait informed the way that I run The 20,000 Project.
What is comes down to is that all the work that I do in Pilot is about building a bank of knowledge that I can apply to any of mediums that work in.
I have two formal art responses this semester, one to FUCKMEGUNTERBRUSBRUSGUNTERMEFUCK, a performance by Miguel Gutierrez, where I explored the piece’s themes and format, and talked about what made it art and how it related to the greater world. The second has not been done yet because the art show has only fully been up one day.
In addition these formal written responses, I try to engage with all the pieces of art I see, especially when there are other people looking at it with me. Examples: Zak Kline and engaged in a discussion about Laurie Anderson’s The Dream Before. We talked about what we considered the song to be about and how the meaning changes when you watch the short film that goes along with it. Orlando WW and I engaged in discussion about the film Nocturnal Animals, where we talked about the role that editing and cinematography changed the way the story is perceived by the audience.
My health credit this year consists of me taking a human sexuality class at the Unitarian Universalist church in Montpelier, called Our Whole Lives (OWL). The class meets about three times a month for four or five sessions, each about an hour and a half long. Where we discuss whatever is on the curriculum for that day.
Of course human sexulity isn’t all of what Health covers, so I also meet with Meaghan Falby bimonthly and work aspects of the rest of the health curriculum into my pilot studies or do projects that cover and educate me on materiel that is necessary to earn the credit. This has included a goal/good habit setting exercise, as well as creating a personalized wellness wheel.
I am earning half a credit over the course of the whole year, so the workload for this credit is smaller than that of all my other credits, which makes this study much less stressful, and healthier for me.
Creative Thinking and Problem Solving
- Directing Plays: Spinning, Theater Lab, and The People and Poet’s Heart.
- Work on Zero Hour: as it is very technical and I am only one person.
- Creating a cut of King Lear: Characters are removed creating plot holes that need to be filled.
- The 20,000 Project: Creating stimuli for performers to obtain different reactions.
Effective and Expressive Communication
- Directing Plays: Spinning Theater Lab, and The People and Poet’s Heart
- Portrait: Videos, Artist Statements, and Installation
- Essay Writing: Art + Meaning Essay
- Creating a Cut of King Lear: Leaving on the words that tell the story I want to be telling
- Work in the Theater: On the lights at the beginning of this year.
- Pilot: I cleaned the Pilot Cabinet, and keeping the room tidy
- U-32 Art Show: the creation of string gallery with Amy
- Lighting: Concerts
Working Independently and Collaboratively
- Directing Plays: Spinning, Theater Lab, and The People and Poet’s Heart.
- Portrait: Videos, and Installation
- Work on Zero Hour
- The 20,000 Project
Informed, Integrated, and Critical Thinking
- The People and Poet’s Heart
- Portrait: Portrait Artist Statement, and Installation
- Responding to Art
- Work on Zero Hour: Identifying what works as part of the show and what doesn't.
Self Awareness and Self Direction
- Portrait: Videos, Artist Statement, and Installation
- Work on Zero Hour
- Work in the Pilot Program in General
Independent Learning Skills
There is very little that can stop me from doing what I want to in my studies. The biggest obstacle I face is time, because I have so much work to do and not very much time to do it all. The issue that this produces is that I prioritize some things over others, and that is usually based on what I want to do as opposed to what I need to do.
I can also have to do without sometimes. The spinning set was supposed to have cardboard that set under it with writing on it, but there wasn’t enough time for me to make that so I had to tape the floor out instead. I downgraded one part of my project to get the rest of the project to the best it could be, which was a good decision.
There are obstacles everywhere, but I forget that they exist sometimes because I am so used to dealing with them.
I find the opportunity to learn in all my Pilot studies. I will often be working on a project such as an art response, and will find some interesting string to pursue and learn about that is related to the project but not what is actually about.
When I was writing my art response for FUCKMEGUNTERBRUSBRUSGUNTERMEFUCK I came across an artistic movement, actionism, that I hadn’t heard of, so I went of a internet search for what exactly it was and discovered all kind of interesting facts, and gained an understanding of a movement that I had previously known nothing about.
With the amount of work that I am doing this year I need to be very good at time management. There is not much space in my life for slacking off, because it is nearly impossibly to catch back up.
In early December I created a master schedule for everything that I was going to do for the rest of the semester. I included all the meetings I had, along with all the work I was going to do, what day I was going to do it. I even built in some extra time at the end to make up work that I missed.
This worked wonderfully for most everything, although there were a few projects that I let slide under the water and won't be able to resuscitate till semester 2.
I like to think that I am very accountable. I make it to meetings on time, and proactively schedule myself, so that I avoid most scheduling conflicts.
What best reflects on my accountability though is that people ask me to do things. Erin GB has asked me to act as the producer for when U-32 hosts a regional drama festival this spring. And Chad Hollister approached me about doing some set design for a show that he is doing in January. Because people continue to ask me to do these kinds of things I must be successful in being accountable.
I like to think that my work demonstrates itself. When you are creating theater (or any kind of art) the whole process informs the final product, even though you don’t necessarily see it. When you look at Spinning Compared to The People and Poet’s Heart you see two very different plays, but just from looking I think you can tell that Spinning is more deliberate in its create, the movement is concise and intentional, so I must have improved as a director since I directed The People and Poet’s Heart.
I ask for help all the time. I ask Amy where I should go to get something that I need for a project, a projector, or a laptop, or some string. I ask Chris to help me understand essay structure, or how I might address a topic next. I ask my parents for rides or to bring me dinner on days when I stay at school late to do theater.
AHAA:. The Everything Space, Montpelier. 2 Sept. 2016. Performance. This was a real life example of avant-garde/performance in the real world, that I had a chance to see.
Gutierrez, Miguel. "Miguel Gutierrez." Miguel Gutierrez. N.p., n.d. Web. I have watched videos of many performances by Miguel Gutierrez, and read about his work on this site.
Gutierrez, Miguel. When You Rise Up: Performance Texts. Brooklyn, NY: 53rd State, 2009. Print. Performance Texts by an artist whose work I have been looking at.
Hanna, Judith Lynne. Dance, Sex and Gender: Signs of Identity, Dominance, Defiance, and Desire. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1988. Print. I've been reading this book as part of my exploration of movement and dance as performance art.
Schechner, Richard. Performance Studies: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2010. Print. This is a textbook about performance art.Artaud, Antonin. The Theater and Its Double. New York: Grove, 1958. Print. This is a book about theater theory, I have been thinking about the ideas presented here in relation to my production of Spinning.
Boal, Augusto. Games for Actors and Non-actors. London: Routledge, 1992. Print. I used this book to learn about Theater of the Oppressed and to lead games for Spinning.
Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1985. Print. I used this to learn about Theater of the Oppressed.
Banks, Iain. The Wasp Factory: A Novel. New York, NY: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1998. Print. I read this book.
Spolin, Viola, Paul Sills, and Carol Sills. Theater Games for the Lone Actor. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 2001. Print. I used this book to develop my skills as an individual performer in Zero Hour.
Spolin, Viola. Theater Games for Rehearsal: A Director's Handbook. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1985. Print. I used this book to lead games during The People and Poet's Heart.
"The Brief Bedford Reader." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2016. I am using this book to develop my writing skills.
Lockart, E. When We Were Liars. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. This is an adaptation of King Lear.
Moore, Christopher. Fool. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. This is an adaptation of King Lear.
Ran. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. 1985. DVD. This is a film adaptation of King Lear.
Shakespeare, William. King Lear. Comp. Kenneth Muir. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1959. Print. This is actually King Lear.
Smiley, Jane. A Thousand Acres. New York: Knopf, 1991. Print. This is an adaptation of King Lear.
"UbuWeb." UbuWeb. N.p., n.d. Web. I use ubuweb to discover artists, and to find inspiration.
Rapti, Vassiliki. Ludics in Surrealist Theatre and Beyond. N.p.: Ashgate Group, 2013. Print. This book, part of my studies last year, talks about surrealist theater.
Amy Koenigbauer. My Pilot Advisor, and Pilot Art advisor.
Chris Blackburn. My Pilot English advisor.
Erin Galligan-Baldwin. I meet with Erin and talk about my projects and theater.