Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stilts in Denmark: Part 1

                                                         The Prince of Row 43

Hey Kids!

I'm heading off to Denmark to attend a week long "stilt council" at the Odin Theatre in Holstobro. As I happen to be a professional stilt walker, my interest was piqued by the email I received several months ago. The work of Odin Theatre has greatly inspired our work at Bond Street Theatre, and as I always wanted to spend some time at their fabulous performing arts complex, I figured the experience will be well worth the travel costs.
Despite being a professional, I'm not exactly sure what a "stilt council" is supposed to be. What I understand from the email correspondence: for the price of an airline ticket to Copenhagen and a four hour train ride to Holstobro, I will be treated with room and board and the opportunity to rehearse and perform with other like minded stilters in a single outdoor pageant performance. The audience will be thirty to fifty thousand "European scouts" and their families. Boy scouts? Girls Scouts? Co-ed? The email is not specific. It does say we will be rehearsing routines that"should consist of opposing moments of Butho, like slow motion and moments of short explosive behavior and things in between." The email continued:

"We believe our show will consist of about 2 hours, in a big open field, the size of a football field, using 5 corridors (wide enough to let an ambulance pass through). Each corridor will be bordered with ropes and balloons attached. Our presence should end with a small scene in front of the main stage... We will have to improvise and adapt to the unforeseen circumstances."
Oh. Okay. Cool.
In the month previous to my arrival another workshop has been underway at Odin, Crossing 2, lead  by Deborah Hunt in giant puppetry and  mask making, and The Jasonites leading music and dance.  The fruits of their labors will be the centerpiece of the performance (I gather). Additionally, "there will be The European Caravan in the far end with tractors and a horse."

I am happy to participate because about a zillion years ago in the early days of my involvement with Bond Street Theater, Swedish director Ingeman Lindh showed us a film called "The Two Banks of the River", about the adventures of the young Odin Theatre in South America. With eccentric characters, detailed choreography and open air rehearsals the European ensemble challenged cultural norms, dodged the military junta, and delighted the locals with a variety of highly physical performances.
It blew our minds. From that moment forward, the idea of traveling the world and mixing it up with international artists and audiences became the goal. Oh, and one of the coolest tools in Odin's performative arsenal? Stilts!
So thats the background. So far the best part of the trip is that I am the only passenger to command an entire four-seat row on the night flight over the Atlantic, so I should sleep relatively well. The worst part is that I am without my love and regular traveling companion Joanna, who remains behind in NYC handling the details of our upcoming Afghanistan projects. As she recently had her own personal Odin week, there was less incentive on her part for this adventure. Still, I would happily give up three of my four seats for her presence.
More to come.

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