Saturday, November 15, 2014

Maria Mavridou’s Diary: in Korea with Netzwerk AKS

Oct 7th ….. So here I am, it’s the 7th of October, I am ready to fly and meet the team of wozzeck_woyzeck_reloaded in Seoul. This is a team of nomads. Italians and Philippino based in Germany, Austrian and Greek in The Netherlands, Germans in Austria, incorporating Korean collaborators within our shared world that grew inside an Austrian landscape. For some, Korea is a new, unknown place, for some a place loved and longed to meet again… Nevertheless, wehave a shared excitement of meeting each other on the other side of the globe, a shared challenge to make our piece alive again in a very short time and a shared question of how wozzeck_woyzeck_reloaded will communicate with an audience that is in so many ways different from the audience we’ve met in Carinthia. This team has lots of trust while having no idea of what things will bring. This team dives in and surrenders to the moments of meeting different universes. This team is a blessing to be part of. Korea, here we are! Open your gates!
Oct 8th ….. It’s fast, it’s fast, plane lands, taxi picks us up, we arrive at Hotel Factory, 15min later we have a production meeting to get our schedule for the next days, receive per diems, make appointments, meet Harim Lee, the organizer from SIDance [Seoul International Dance]. 2 hours later, all is discussed and arranged. On the 10th we travel to Busan.
Oct 9th ….. The 9th is off. We go to see Korean sword dance at SIDance, I accidentally bump into an old friend who knows one of the sword dance companies, so we end up having chicken and beer all together … Koreans are so welcoming! The night is fun! People ask about our piece. Simona, Unita and me give our improvised introduction to the work to the people who plan to come and watch our performance. It’s the first time we hear each other talk about the work to outsiders. So, far this was Andrea’s role. I am happy to hear my colleagues talking from their perspective. I get inspired by realizing how different experiences we all have.
Oct 10th ….. Next day, meeting to travel. It’s not so easy. Taxi-bus packed with luggage, costumes, LED lamps and people. Our production is small, but not so small. Everyone is stressed and running. We make it to the station. We are in the train to Busan… The day is sunny, we get to see Korea through the window… Rivers, mountains, fields… It’s beautiful! We are in Busan! And… Where is our hotel? We are dealing with our first, yet typical Korean experience of having an address that doesn’t exactly correspond to the desired location. The street system in Korea is obviously very different than in Europe. Yet, not even the Koreans are able to find the right location based on an address. How to navigate? Walk, ask somebody who might know (or not) and direct you to the right or to a not so right location… Asking is a way to get in contact with people. Detour is a chance to get out of habit. We will have plenty of that. Breathe, relax, enjoy! Our Hotel is a Motel. Motel means love hotel. Korea has lots and lots of those. We have huge rooms here, and we even get to choose a color, white room, purple room, black room … Color wakes up the imagination!
Oct 11th ….. Time to work. Preparation and set-up day. Nothing goes as planned, which is to be expected. There is a natural miscommunication about starting times, with a delay of 3 hours. A natural extra delay until we find out who is the leader of the team of technicians, until we realize we need to wait because he is not there yet. There are natural technical challenges having to do with converting European systems to Korean, lights being there or not, floors possible or impossible to change. Theater is an alive organism, even without actors. Everything is taken care of by Andrea, Eleonor, SeiSeung and Haein. The performers go away and come later. As a performer I have a pretty fun job, actually…
Oct 12th ….. Performance day. The theater is on the 10th-and-a-half floor of a building that is mainly a hospital. At the entrance you can sometimes see a few old men in their pajamas having a smoke. Upon entering you see a parking lot. There is no publicity from the theatre for wozzeck_woyzeck_reloaded apart from the flyer hanging on the walls of the building. There isn’t a website either in order for us to do our own promotion. Although it wasn’t planned, the night is shared with another piece by a Spanish artist who is artist-in-residency in Busan. The theater organizers decide to put one piece after another without a break and without any introduction about the works. Our piece is first. We start. From the stage I see some puzzled looks. I remember all my teachers telling to generously offer the work and not interpret the reactions of the audience. Let people free to be, to experience, to respond, whatever that is. I see empty spaces and gaps, I am not sure where and how the actions on stage resonate on the side of the people watching. How could I know? Time is running. This piece is already complex. Do I have time to ask myself these questions? Let go. Move to the next. Do it fully. Give it all. Hold nothing back. Next moment. Let it go. A sense of expansion comes. A trust, blind, half-blind… a belief, a knowing, true, untrue, who can judge? There is a hidden channel from where we can speak… in the shadows… a poetry, an atmosphere, a sensing… being in this same room at the same time already does the work. I am also an audience. I see, I am seen. I hear, I am being heard. Something is shared. Once we finish there is very little clapping. My ears try to find a sense of appreciation in the nuances of the clapping sounds. Why should I need that? Why should I need to get something back? It’s not about that. Let it go. I bow to the space and time carrying us all. Thank you. We rush to change and exit immediately for the next piece to start. Once the second piece is finished, we rush to pack everything and go. We have a great dinner. The team is lively, happy. We laugh a lot together. I feel the quiet love shared in between us. How come there is so much space for each one to be? Nothing seems to matter.

Oct 13th ….. Next day back to Seoul. It is raining a lot! There is a typhoon in Japan making its presence felt in Busan. Netzwerk AKS likes speeding before traveling. I am getting used to that by now and start enjoying it. Plans change in a split of a second. You just need to follow the time. No resistance. That’s all. We all enter taxis with the huge luggage and rush to the station. Our next place in Seoul is nothing like the ones before. Lexvill Residence. New, big, clean hotel, washing machine and kitchen in the room, well-dressed, overly polite receptionists, fresh new sheets, fluffy bed covers … I do prefer the older places. They smell of the people having lived inside for years. My nose is maybe the only part of my body that doesn’t discriminate. I like to smell the wild mixtures of perfumes, mold, tobacco, plastic shampoo bottles covered in dust, water from old pipes, old air closed inside a drawer. I like to feel the change of smell once the window gets opened. I like to feel that I am part of this history of smells. New places smell of new materials. Untouched. I want to roll my body on all the surfaces, tables, walls, water boilers, windows, TV screens and leave an invisible trace. No. This isn’t something a human being is supposed to be doing… I embrace my culture. I need to prepare for Wozzeck. I need to find the wolf before I go to bed tonight. Where can I find the wolf in Lexvill Residence? I go for a run in the city. After 1 hour I end up in a park. It’s dark and quiet. I need to practice. I dance alone. A young boy approaches slowly. He comes to sit on a bench and looks at me secretly. I look at him secretly with the side of my eye too. We both know that we look at each other, yet we also quietly agree that our game is that we don’t see each other. He can sit on his bench and read and I can move as I please. It is the perfect time. I dance for half an hour. He is sitting. Once I am done, I leave.
꿈 dream 늑대 wolf 어둠 darkness
Oct 14th ….. Next day. Preparation. Gangdong Arts Center. The theater is big and it has everything concerning tech. And the acoustics are perfect. We are not used to that… It also has plenty of technicians and many rules. Rules cannot be negotiated in Korea, even if there is a more reasonable proposal. We need to learn the rules and adjust. We are not used to that either. Things take longer because of different languages and many people liking to interfere. There is some nervousness in the air, but no big drama. The taste of international collaboration. It’s a long day, but the work is done.
Oct 15th ….. Next day. Performance. Are we ready? Yes. No. Get ready! Is it already time? How did it all go so fast? We have already done one full run before the official performance in order to have a proper photo- shoot and practice the tech. I don’t feel ready. Each time the piece is starting I don’t know where I am. I see Simona and Unita waiting behind the white screen, carrying their costumes, preparing in their own way. I wish I was inside their bodies and minds and feel what’s going on. The music starts, Unita walks, I follow, Simona comes after. I recognize our familiar timing of doing this first move. Unita stops, I stop, Simona stops. It’s the easiest move you can imagine – three women standing on their two legs – yet I am always afraid I’ll loose my balance. That’s maybe 2 minutes. Let’s continue… Next moment, next moment, next, next, next. Split seconds of a chance to find something new each time we perform. The piece is dense with singular choices, becoming denser and denser. Time is split and split and split again. Who was I before, who am I this moment? I don’t know my border anymore. I don’t know where I end and where Unita and Simona start. My feet are floor and my ear drum is music. My belly is a theater.
Almost an hour has passed. We are supposed to die at the end. This death always comes too early. I never feel like dying. Once I lie, I know there is more… This piece is not done yet. There is more space to explore. When? When will we have the chance again? I am holding Simona’s and Unita’s hands, bowing to the open skies with a wish to continue. There is an artists talk right after the piece. Andrea speaks about the work, answering questions from the audience. We arrive a little later after changing clothes. People ask simple questions based on what they saw on stage, trying to de-codify the information. One person asks for more information about the white screen, noticing that some action is happening behind it throughout the whole piece. Andrea gets to talk about the world behind the world. The shadow world, the dream world. Linking this idea with the text heard during the piece: “When nature has vanished and the world has become dark, so dark that you have to grope around it with your hands searchingly and it seems to disperse like spiders webs. Oh, when things are and yet aren’t. Oh, oh, Marie. When it is so dark and all what’s left is a red glow from the west as if from a chimney. What’s there to cling to? ” A Korean friend who was there told me that she understood that we all carry our shadow, our spirits, our deaths within our body. Lost in translation? Found in translation? A chain of events. A chain of interpretations. A chain of free choices. A chain of interferences. Freed by being chained to a wheel. It’s rolling…
Oct 16th ….. The last morning, after everyone leaves, I get to have a spontaneous 2 hours talk with Unita about the piece at the entrance of Lexvill Residence, while the wind is blowing. One thing brings the other, the work continues in our minds for now… When and where will the next chance be?

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