Friday, March 03, 2006

gig 002 - w/Toutes Choses de Paille

gig 002

Saturday February 25, 2006
@ Théatre du Marais, Val-David, Quebec

John Sobol – sax and vox
Michelle Bastien – voix et mouvement
Marguerite Morin – voix et gestes
Michel… – flute et synthésiseur
Nathalie Levasseur – sculpture performance
Line Dicaire – chant et piano
Gilles Matte – voix et conception
Sylvain Fontaine – technicien

23 spectators
Set 1: 60 minutes
Set 2: 40 minutes
Entirely scripted and choreographed (except for brief improvisational interludes by me)
Video recording made
A couple small previews in local papers
$14 tickets
booze not sold
but beer available in the fridge if you left a toonie in the cup

the show was Toutes Choses de Paille
all things of straw
a multidisciplinary thematic poetry show
video projections, recitations, songs, scatterings
conceived by a group of poets and artists who live in the laurentians north of montreal
of which I was this time a willing participant
the entire show in French
combining original poems with excerpts of poems by famous French poets
exploring the metaphors of wind and sand and straw
with lovely songs interwoven by line dicaire
her own and old favourites everybody in the room but me knew
like Pauvre Rutebeuf by Léo Ferré, the celebrated Québecois chansonnier of years past

Gilles was the director
Leading us as a cast of collaborators
Into an assembly of poems staged and blocked and seamed
Michelle flung upon the floor of the theatre
Nathalie hanging rattan sculptures made from old chair guts
Marguerite sifting sand in her hands

I got to call the winds
At the start of the show
With my horn

If you blow through a sax
Very hard
But keep from making the reed vibrate
It makes a deep whooosshhing sound
So I called the wind with that sound
In and around the mic
Until Michel arrived with the big synth winds through the p.a.
swirling around the room
It was a nice effect
With the huge fans coming on too and all
Blowing the sheets covered with blue block letter poems hanging from the rafters

Very nice
And unlike the night before (gig 001)
Here nobody else was talking

People loved it
They were really thrilled
It moved them quite a bit
Figuratively not literally
Because literally they did not move at all
The show being in a theatre
theatre = immobility

This is not the first show this group has done together
There have been others in the past year
I saw one
Which is why I was interested in working with them at least once
Because Gille’s concept is really quite original
Not completely
But certainly nobody else is putting on poetry shows of this nature
The antithesis of slam
Very French in its aestheticism and oratory
More introspective than hiphop
More romantic than anything else
I mean this is quebec
Sophisticated, sensual and tough enough
Though always a bit insular
As this is a country and its people

So a solid show
Much better than I had expected it to be based on the 2 rehearsals I had been to
(they had had more)
and again
people really liked it

I riffed in French again
And actually got off
In that dark quiet solemn space
An improvised poem that succeeded in weaving together strands of the night’s language and moods
which I had failed to do the night before (gig 001) in my first try at public french riffing
So that was satisfying

I learned a new way to create collaborative poetic performances
I learned I can riff in French if the setting is right
And that maybe that’s not so different from English riffing

And I learned about Saint-John Perse
Gilles asked me to read a few lines that he selected from Saint-John Perse’s Gallimard book-length poem, Les Vents
I had never read the man before
But on Saturday night I got to speak these words to an audience already entranced by poetry:

Et le Poète aussi est avec nous, sur la chaussée
Des hommes de son temps.
Allant le train de son temps, allant le train
De ce grand vent.
Son occupation parmi nous: mise en clair des
messages. Et la réponse en lui donnée par illumi-
nation du Coeur.
Non point l’écrit, mais la chose meme. Prise
En vif et dans son tout…

Et le Poète encore est avec nous, parmi
Les hommes de son temps, habité de son mal…

Mais attentive à sa lucidité, jaloux de son auto-
rité, et tenant clair au vent le plein midi de sa

(from Les Vents, Saint-John Perse, 1946)

Here’s my translation:

And the poet too is here with us
In the streets of the men of his age
Taking the train of his times
Riding the great trade winds
His occupation amongst us: revealer
of messages. Response in him given in the ill-
uminated Heart.
Not in writing. But in whole
Live sound…

And the poet is with us still
With the men and women of his times
Inhabited by his pain…

But attentive to his lucidity
Jealous of his authority
Cutting the clear wind toward
the high noon of his vision


Risk Factor: 5.6
Riff Factor: 6.6
Success Factor: Strong Success
Wild Card: Saint-John Perse
Cash Factor: 0.0
Parking Lot: 13 cars by a frozen river
Interactivism: 5 (my accented French improvisations an inter-eruption of the already thinned literate skin by the spoken word
although significantly the rest of the spoken poems were read and/or recited by memory from texts, somewhat like proto-awol activities before the letting go of the page, of the tune, of the text altogether) / additionally, collective cut up performances and sharing of texts as babbling tapestries onstage/words hung from banners and projected on screens/songs and music/bodies in movement/everybody mic'ed/overall a very unusual semantic stitching, blending of idioms and vocabularies, balancing of imperatives, literate and oral and even slightly post-oral (digitized synchronicity and enabling of meaning-mixing w/electronic sound and image) with intention too, from an interactivist design perspective not groundbreaking but effective in a blunt way i kind of like, because it puts the poetry first and I always believe that the best poetry will always grab people, an event rather Interdisciplinary than Interactivist in concept and approach)
Joy: 7
Obliteration: 2


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