Before the curtain call: The creation process of Classi_Filed

It is still difficult to grasp that in productions you work for a long time 2/3months then you perform once for 10-30 min and its over just like that. Months of work gone in minutes. The viewers are lucky that they only get to see the final product. If they were to see the process of that product!!!!! They would not believe.

I have created many productions in my current lifetime, each bringing its own challenges and each challenge conquered differently. Classi_filed is a few of many that brought tears.

Classi_Filed: The work
Using 6 performers this work aims to interrogate ideas behind clothes. How clothes tend to mould us to these different identities and personalities.

My aim perhaps to show different ideas clothes give to different individuals. I intended to use mannequins as well in the work but had a difficult time finding those so back to the original plan I went to use clothing rails. I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to do something different, it was 2017 that we completed Intimate which was a smooth technical piece. With this I wanted to challenge the moving body as well. Forget all the jumps, the floor work and all the technical jargon…what if we just move and create narrative with clothes…and that my friend is where my troubles began.

1. An attempt to move differently: For this work I wanted us to move in a contort way, to deconstruct bodily movement to it natural and perhaps abstract form. Simply putting it I wanted us to be clothes and mannequins. It proved difficult to not only me but to the performers. I am use to twisting and turning on the floor, jumping and flipping. Here I was getting rid of all that….asking performers to forget all that. Asking them to just have a conversation with the clothes around their bodies, to strip each other, to discuss with the clothes and have arguments with the clothes. There were headaches, there were tears. I could see the strain between performers. People cried. Inevitably I cried, asking myself if what I am doing will work or not

2. The performers: When creating new work I want to give opportunity, I want to give rise to a “New” body. With Classi_filed I had the same intention, to mix old talent with new talent, veteran and newbies. I intended to have 4 ladies and 3 gentlemen, myself being the 4th. Fate however had other plans. I lost three ladies in the first 2/3 weeks. Some who just vanished without excuses, one got injured and the other took other priorities. I was left with my veteran. I re-casted new bodies, I knew what I wanted; I believed I could get it. The first body was having a difficult time adjusting to the idea of the movement. It was an out of body experience for her. We talked. I understood. She left. I was left with two. I was content with my two women. Time passed. I was getting trouble from my one lady. I believed in her, she didn’t seem to do the same for me. I began to question myself as creator. What am I doing wrong? Why am I unable to get my dancer to function? 2 weeks before performance I had to let her go. We said our goodbyes. I had to re-cast. I called another veteran. I had no time. She answered. She said yes. We began working for hours on Sunday. Days in my new veteran was having a difficult time adjusting herself to the idea of the movement. Am I asking too much of these performers? I consoled her. She said he will get it. I believed. We worked.

Those were just a few issues I faced. The men were giving me a problem as well. They had personal issues as well. Always in a quarrel, egos and ideas clashing; I would come back by myself to the studio at night and cry it all out. Scream and dance till I fell asleep. Would come back the next rehearsal to try and fix all the issues. There were performers having problems creating solos, people forgetting solos. Some solos created 3 days before performance day.
3. Creating Solos.
It is hard to ask anyone to create a solo that is worth 2-4 min and ask them to not do what they are comfortable with. I asked each performer Mpilo, Nandile, Londeka, Vuyo and myself to create a solo that would relate to the relationship their character has with clothing. Londeka who forgot her whole solo a 5 days before performance, Mpilo who created his solo 2 days before performance, Vuyo who never completed his, Nandile who cried because the solo was asking too much from her and myself, who had to battle with just moving and not movement I am use to doing. We each were battling with our own demons. As creator I had to consume all these demons so it becomes easier for the performers. I brought people to help me. Smanga, Fiddy and Sabelo…each of these people lifted a weight off my shoulders.

Classi_Filed: At the closing curtain
I was troubled. I wondered if people would get what I was trying to say. I wondered if what I was doing was not too abstract. With everything that had happened, I questioned if it all made sense. I was scared, I was nervous. We performed. We made mistakes. Mistakes that felt like hours on stage but only for a few seconds; what made me happy though was that people got the work. Some deconstructed the work from beginning to end. Adding things that even I never realised were happening. At the end that is all that matters in the work that we do. That you have expressed as creator what you want to express and that people get it and add their own perspective to it and that the people you worked with grew even for just a little bit.

I wish there was a formula to use when creating work….but every formula according to the bodies used needs alteration as I had to do with this work. In retrospect there isn’t a definite formula to use. You have drown in the work and work constantly.

Creating Classi_filed was no easy journey, at the end of it all however I love that I was able to create it. I thank all those who were involved.

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