The Creative Critic 
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Karen Christopher



the goal: inspiration during the making of So Below with Gerard Bell is a section describing how ideas were developed for performance through a series of drawings which facilitated the movement of thought from the head to the page and, eventually, to the stage.


The accompanying photograph from So Below links to a webpage from the author’s website including more information about, and photos from, this duet project.


This duet explores a moment of pause, the space between two stutters and as time stops and the world grows small around them they find a multitude encased in this interval. With a combination of gravity and lightness two people inhabit a carefully constructed twilight of mounding earth and falling water intermingled with the comic grace of a time between world wars.


So Below is a Haranczak/Navarre performance duet by Gerard Bell & Karen Christopher; lighting design by Martin Langthorne. So Below forms part of The Difference Between Home and Poem: a duet series. Each project in the series is jointly made, directed and performed by Karen Christopher and another artist.

So Below, Adam Levy Photography 2012

In this first attempt at a sketch of the bucket image in my head, the two of us stand among a group of water-filled buckets. Looking at it I sensed motionlessness in our piece and understood I saw myself small in the static image. (drawing by the author)

In this second sketch we have traded places within the image and now one of us is standing still and the other seems to be in motion, a bucket has gone sideways. I read a judder in it, a slight progression. (drawing by the author)
In this sketch Gerard is holding the plant pots in his wavering arms, everything is leaking out; I begin to see what I am looking at. (drawing by the author)
The first path drawing is the original, idealised version. The second version was more helpful as a mnemonic device. Somehow the symmetry was recalled more readily. (drawing by the author)
Let's Look at the Drawing, Video credit: Andrea Milde


the path on the floor: an aide-mémoire in service of composing Control Signal with Sophie Grodin is a section describing the way a drawing serves as an aid to bringing material back to life after a pause in a making process.


As Sophie Grodin and I were making the performance duet Control Signal there were often gaps of more than a month between working sessions. Notes on material that rely solely on words can be cumbersome when it comes to describing specifics of movement. Drawings of various kinds describe the different parameters of our movements through space and facilitate our recollection of previously composed work.


This video clip taken from video documentation of a day in the studio during the making of Control Signal was captured and selected by linguist Andrea Milde, who studies spoken communication between theatre makers, actors and directors, in order to analyse types of spoken artistic discourse. It captures the moment on a first day back at work following time off from the piece when we had to consult our notes in order to settle confusion over a walking pattern we were to trying to remember.


the arc or totality: a programme note to coax the unfamiliar viewer is a section describing the use of a diagrammatic tool for displaying associations between discrete elements in the body of a performance work. When showing non-narrative or collage-like narrative material to audiences unfamiliar with such performance one is often faced with a problem of how to facilitate understanding among possibly resistant audience members. Long paragraphs of description can be further distancing for those people and may also undermine the point of keeping narratives loose, which is to say, open to individual interpretation.

The video by Tara Morris embedded here is a 5-minute video interview with the author at the time of making (with students at the Claremont Colleges in California) the performance work Free as Air in 2013 for which a drawing was made to include as a programme note. This is the drawing used as an example in the chapter in The Creative Critic, p.263.

Free As Air, 2013