By Assistant Director, Myles O’Gorman.
I wanted to start the blog with a little intro on what the play is about. You could certainly talk a lot about Sylvan Oswald’s piece. It’s one that constantly shifts, evolves and moves around a story of queer love, queer identity and how our world (and future worlds) forces us to navigate an increasingly inhospitable environment. But the piece refuses to settle into one thing, it opens us up to a staggering multiplicity – a multiplicity of worlds, people, textures and – most of all – bodies. A key question for us has been about what the audience might project onto the actors performing the play, about how we might be keen to project a certain type of character onto a certain type of body, and how can we assist the text’s challenge to resist this projection?
‘Training Log: What is my body for?’
I could talk about how the form of the piece is trans, how the text is like a body itself, and about what it means for theatre to have a queer form. I could talk about how we’ve discussed queer theory – from Paul B. Preciado’s An Apartment on Uranus to José Esteban Muñoz’s idea of a Queer Utopia.
But most importantly, and strikingly, this rehearsal process has not been about talking. The process so far, even on day one, has been one of constant activity: of playfulness, of trying things out.
The subtitle of the text calls the piece a ‘theatrical essay’. But this is far from an oblique or impenetrable piece of work. The piece takes inspiration from the origins of the essay form, about how it was created by the renaissance scholar Montaigne as a way of grieving for his ‘friend’, Étienne de la Boétie, and how his essays meandered and digressed as a way to express his grief at la Boétie’s early death. An essay is a series of attempts and failures to try and express our humanness.
‘The word essay is kinda cool too. It means ‘to try.’ Like in French. Essay in French means ‘to try.’
So like maybe writing an essay is an act of compassion. Or a humbling thing. You’re not setting out to ‘WIN’ or even to ‘succeed.’ It’s just, ‘try.”
The best way to describe the rehearsal process so far, then, is to call it a ‘theatrical essay’. Inside the room a series of playful attempts take shape, with every movement or word or action an attempt to understand how we can talk about our bodies, our identity, and our collective experiences of love and loss. It’s genuinely exciting to be in a room bursting with brilliant queer minds. As if by silent agreement, Danielle (sound designer) jumps up to create music from a food processor and wine bottles, while Nando (performer) falls into ditches without hesitation and Nicki (performer) jumps onto platforms while doing twenty dips and burpees. What do these movements create and what meanings might they accrue? And what do they tell us about how we read bodies? And suddenly we’ve reached the end of the first part, and it already feels like an epic twenty-minute story brimming with queer life and art and expression (and horses, and the Pet Shop Boys doing West Side Story).
Most of all, this experience is for the audience. There is no pretense, no fourth wall to say that you do not exist as yourselves. While performance art can sometimes make you feel like you’ve missed the point, the beauty of this process is that – as Josh (co-designer) put it – a new train comes every five minutes. And the audience will always be able to jump on the train and explore something new in a piece that is full of multiplicity. And hopefully we can invite you into the wonderful queer world and form that we’re creating together.
Don’t miss Trainers, or, the Brutal Unpleasant Atmosphere of this Most Disagreeable Season: A Theatrical Essay in our theatre from 27 Feb – 21 Mar. Book now.