IN CONVERSATION: bluemouth inc.

After an amazing first week, The Rhubarb Festival is back for Week 2 – the fun begins tonight with a whole new line-up of daring, innovative performance events (the full schedule is available on our website). 

Come tonight for the shows, or join us afterwards in the Buddies Cabaret as we celebrate the kick off of Week 2 with a special presentation of The Centre for Sleep and Dreams Studiespart of the Set it Off Series, Rhubarb’s new platform for experimentations in music and unconventional takes on the DJ Set. 

Today on the blog, Praxis Theatre (Jesus Chrysler) talk to Richard Windeyer and Ciara Adams of bluemouth inc. and poet a.rawlings about The Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies.

PRAXIS: The Centre for Sleep and Dreams is actually the second sleep-themed collaboration between the particular artists involved in this project. In 2006 you all worked on an adaptation of a.rawlings Wide slumber for lepidopterists as part of HATCH. How has working on that piece informed this work?
Ciara Adams: That’s an interesting question, because I think that it is largely because of that earlier collaboration, that the three of us decided we wanted to continue exploring our work together, and more specifically sonic improvisation. a.rawlings developed this fantastic idea, which was an  extension of her research for WSFL, and cleverly formed it into the first incarnation of The Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies, then she invited Richard and I to help her present it at the Scream Literary Festival, this experience re-ignited a spark in all of us. 
Richard Windeyer: Slow evolution….oil tanker speed.
a.rawlings: Slowvolution… Welcome to the Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies. Well, come to the Centre for Sleep and Dream Studies. Come to the Centre. Come to the scent. Whale, elk. Hum. Welcome. Sent her for sleep and dreams. Come. Leavened reams. Studs. To the studies for sleep and leap and leap and ease. Studies will the four. Leap. Hand aims. Hum. He’s welcome. Well, come. Come to the scent. To the scent. The centre. Scent her. Scent her cum. Well, come to the Centre for Sleep and Sleep and Sleep and Sleep and Sleep and Sleep and Sleep and hum.
PRAXIS: You tried out The Centre for Sleep and Dreams at Levack Block on Ossington this summer. How’d it go? What did you learn from it? What will be different this time around in the Rhubarb version? 
CA: I was so moved by the one-on-one interview’s that I was conducting as the “doctor”, and so inspired by the live mixing with Richard and a.rawlings, that I felt there was a need to explore the possibilities further.  It also seemed like a natural fit to so many of the aspects of performance that bluemouth inc. is currently playing with, so it seemed a natural next step to find an opportunity to explore the themes, ideas, and concept further.  I think we are still working out exactly what that is, for this current version of the piece, as we collectively collaborate and consider the intimacy of the audience’s experience.
RW: Levack Block was a bizarre experience. The bar (where I was stationed) was crammed full of people in full-on after-party mode. I couldn’t really hear anything coming out of my gear and whatever was happening in the back room with Ciara and Angela was a virtual mystery to me. It was more like two disparate pieces happening simultaneously – intimate confession in the back room, deaf DJ tweaking recklessly about in the front room. In retrospect, an absolutely brilliant scenario for a performance.

AR: As host of the Levack Block evening, I permeated the membrane separating the raucous cacophony of Richard’s party and the surreal tête-à-tête of Ciara’s interview. It was fascinating to move between a highly social, loud, public space and an intimate, quiet, private encounter. Each audience member who participated in both rooms underwent a kind of metamorphosis, carrying the residue of their previous location into the next. The combination of let-loose joie de vivre and deep soul-searching made for fertile audience-performer collaboration. This time, I feel as though we’re working to expand or establish more the possibilities of each environment, and to consider more fully how they dialogue with each other and how to pump up what experience we offer everyone participating (including ourselves!).

PRAXIS: The five core members of bluemouth inc. have training and experience in practically every artistic discipline. How the heck do you figure out where to start? Do you work from ideas and then figure out how to express them through various mediums – or does someone present a concept within their discipline and then you find ways to expand and relate it to other forms? Or a combo of the two? Are there consistent elements to your process or is it a new way of working each time? 
CA: This is a great question, all of the above?  Though each project is different, and I can only speak to my experience in the collective (which began in 2003), we always begin with a theme or concept, usually something we all agree we want to explore further, and in recent years, yes, I would say we have developed a more specific working style, largely due to the fact that we live in Toronto, New York and Montreal, so you can imagine the importance of video conferencing, and web development whether it be wikidot.com, drop box, google calender, facebook or whiteboard.  We tend to let things take the space they need, and I think we are all pretty comfortable with “not knowing” for long periods.  We also like to say we are interdisciplinary, rather than multidisciplinary which I think implies that for the most part we all move from one art form into another, rather than compartmentalizing things, and everyone can comment on, or help develop everything, this takes a little getting used for collaborators.  As you know we do not work with a director or a playwright.  I think the not having a director thing really throws people sometimes, and they say “But who am I meant to talk to?”, “Who has the answers?”, “Who’s the decider?”, to which we answer “Welcome to bluemouth inc.” 
We also say that often with the best ideas you cannot remember where it came from in the end, as it as been touched by many influences, morphed and changed by the collective experience as it becomes simply by bluemouth inc. 
RW: These days the process usually starts like a pot luck family reunion. We stand around getting re-acquainted and look at what we all prepared and brought. Then we realize there is no main course, so then we try to figure that out and make what goes best with what everyone brought. Takes a long time and there’s usually a lot of feeling lost, feeling ignored, feeling stuck – all of which gets passed around from one member to the next. Everyone oscillates between collective brainstorming and retreating into their areas of expertise. The most important thing to do is also the hardest thing to do – to create and maintain a rich, creative environment in which everyone in the room is optimized for creativity and innovation. Brainstorming, map-making, question-asking, formal transpositions, chance operations, cross-disciplinary translation exercises, dramaturgy (of the creative process itself) and end-of-process test audiences are some of the most valuable tools. This kind of work is a discipline – with time and effort you develop personal tools that enable you to push past the surface of ideas. 
AR: I can’t answer about a consistency in process as this is my second time in direct collaboration with bluemouth-identified collective members. But I can say that there’s a perky enthusiasm and curiosity that runs as an undercurrent through creation/development. Posing questions becomes a way to open windows into a netherspace that surges and crackles between brains. And sometimes, practical constraints (the play-space, an event’s duration) will prove conducive to structure the project or to offer unexpected directions to explore. Mostly, it’s a jubilant network of everythingalltogetheratoncenow!