Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ideas about the piece: The Triumph of Time

The Triumph of Time is a 1574 engraving by Pieter Breughel the Elder. It depicts the inexorable, unstoppable progress of Time as it trundles over everything in its path.

Using that as a starting metaphor for this performance I imagine a group of diverse individuals, each moving forward with a dreamlike slowness of speed, along the path of time. Like Butoh dance with frozen gestures and expressive movements, the performers will travel down the path in one direction only, from birth to death.

It will not be a march, a race, a fashion runway, or a parade, but a glacial human flow, with distinct characters and a feeling of being suspended in time. The performers will be 5th and 6th Grade children but I can imagine a few very senior adults at strategic spots, suggesting the idea of youth to old age.

The movement will all take place on the 100’ long path, which doubles as the noise-making Rumble Strip. The backing of the Strip is painted bright red but materials are glued on it at various points, and calligraphed poetry (on the theme of Time?) is inscribed in the spaces.

With a total of 20 performers available, some will be moving on the path silently while others are playing instruments nearby, in pods or strung along the side of the path.

Instruments include:
10 car tire taiko drums (in 2 groups of 5)
10 stones comprising the Flintstone Gamelan (again spread out, far apart)
20 balloon flutes
20 bloogle tubes (whirlies)
20 Stamping Tubes
5 balloon membrane flutes
3 oildrum gongs
3 Airzookas
20 Sonic Brooms (to activate the Rumble Strip)
Voices; plenty of singing long tones

Separate but nearby stands the Camera Obscura Drum to observe the proceedings.

Motion along the path (all super-slow) can explore all the ways of moving from A to B, eg
Egg and Spoon race (eggs go with the birth to death theme)
Three legged race
Gunnysack race
In a wheelchair…

All performers will be in simple costumes and masks/hats. Maybe something that symbolises a particular age, eg baby’s bonnet, mortarboard, wigs, ballcaps, gardening hat, deerstalker, fedora, bowler… They also might indicate different professions or walks of life.

Primarily limit color pallette to Black, Red, Yellow, Gold and Sky Blue. Certain items can be rainbow blends or details designed to pop.

The Rumble Strip can be made to mimic the sound of the human voice, with gaps between words, and approximate sounds of vowels. The class-composed poem will be reflected in the arrangement of the materials.

There are two tracks to the path, making it stereo, each 2 feet wide. One side will represent each school’s poem.


squiala said...

What about exploring the idea of age and aging through costumes rather than necessarily having different aged participants? Or, exploring the idea of a growth cycle in general and connecting it to the concept of a path?

Philip said...

Yes, not sure what costumes represent what age but let's explore that. Certainly movement could be used to suggest seeds blowing, eggs hatching, rolling, crawling, walking, running, and eventually stooping and slowing. Worms>Larvae>Butterflies?