Sunday, October 2, 2016

wondering

if there is still a reason for me to have a blog.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Salon du Garage #2 – I Know / Survey Results Summary


My summary of the audience experience culled from the survey responses is that the performance series had the impact I was hoping it would have. The audience felt comfortable participating and felt happy to be invited to be creative. I felt connected to them and with them and of them as I performed. They were curious about the games and created strategies to try and figure out the relationships. They liked the humor and the intimacy of the space. A few returned more than once and several brought people that I did not know.

It was a really unfamiliar process for me. I would not think about the piece much or at all during the week then on Saturday morning I would dedicate the day to preparing for that evenings show. I sometimes felt really nervous having not stressed over every detail for days before the show but I quickly settled in to just trusting myself. On Saturday after my usual ritual of sleeping a little later, listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR and eating a somewhat extravagant breakfast with my man and his daughter, I would open up the garage and start puttering and pondering. The process was really relaxed and fun. I wanted to push myself to see if I could keep it that way, just like a little something that we do in the garage on Saturdays. It felt that way.

There was a conversation after each show. Only in one, the second, did it turn into a kind of lecture by Dawn as the crowd listened. All the other evenings were lively conversations in small groups and in a circle/cluster of the whole group. It was such a nice excuse to have interesting people come into my home, eat, drink, think and play together. I truly did feel like I connected with the audience and that they connected with me. It felt relevant to living. I will continue to perform like this alongside the other ways in which I perform. I can see this becoming a very regular occurrence in my life.

- Dawn Stoppiello


Salon du Garage #2 – I Know - Survey Results (4/6/2013)

64 individuals were invited via email and encouraged to bring people I did not know. The hand picked list of invitees included personal friends, performing arts community members and student/colleague’s from a local art college.

First performance in the series April 6, 2013
There were 14 reservations made and 18 people attended. We mingled in the house having snacks and beverages for about fifteen minutes and then moved to the garage for the performance event. These are the results from the anonymous survey that was handed out after the performance.

Did you feel engaged in the experience?
All 18 people checked “yes” that they felt engaged in the experience.

If no, what distracted you?
One person said the clothesline was too high because s/he is short.
One person felt the first segment (tool/table) was too long.

If yes, what engaged you?
There was a positive and inclusive energy. The space felt “safe”, the moderator (my friend Shannon) helped with that feeling. Also strong were the whimsical nature of the whole event, the talent, passion and presence of the performer, and the mandatory audience participation. Trying to figure out the system – the relationship of tool or image to performer response was very engaging for most. There was a lot of trying to understand the relationships but it was clear early on that there WAS a relationship. There was opportunity to experiment with the unknown; to be uninitiated and figure things out as they went along; to be “willing” to participate (has to do with feeling safe) to be playful, to giggle, to observe and to choose and to create. There was satisfaction in being about to influence the performers actions and their participation was desired/expected/encouraged. There was mystery and joy and many faces to observe, performer and audience. The blurry line between performer and audience, people went back and forth observing both.

Could you recognize why certain things happened?
3 people checked “no”
3 people checked “yes” and “no” = sort of or sometimes
12 people checked “yes”

If yes, how were you able to recognize this?
Trial and error and observation were the keys to understanding that there was a relationship between moving objects (tools or images) and the performers actions. Over time some began to know the specific move or word set that went with some of the objects but could never know them all. One person said that the tool/table segment was difficult because there was so much going on. People were excited and moving the tools a lot. But, s/he said that this segment was an excellent primer for the clothesline segment”. As I was performing the tool/table segment I heard the audience talking. I heard them say things like “what happens if we take everything away?” or “ lets just leave one tool on the table at a time so we can know what that movement is?” I could feel them experimenting with trying to compose.

Did you enjoy being asked to participate in the action?
One person checked “no” and one person did not check either box. The remaining 16 all checked “yes”.

Did you feel like a collaborative community with the other audience members?
One person did not check either box. Three people checked “yes” and “no” (sort of) one saying that at times they disagreed with the choices made my others and one did not specify. One person checked “no” saying that s/he barely felt like a collaborative community because perhaps the group was too large and that they were not have a “group process” experience. I think it’s interesting that collaborative community might mean for some that there be constant cooperation and unanimous agreed upon decisions. My observation was they were indeed collaborating meaning that each individual does not always get their own way. The rest of the group checked “yes” they felt like a collaborative community even though not everyone knew each other. Perhaps that points to the feeling of safety again.

Will you attend another Salon du Garage this month?
The no’s and the maybe’s commented that their schedules did not or might not permit. Many said yes they would try to return.

Why do you think an artist might choose to perform in her garage?
There was a consensus on why I chose to use the garage – it’s a convenient, inexpensive, personal, transformable space providing many creative possibilities. The audience understood the practical mixed with the aesthetical. 

In addition to being invited by Dawn, why are you here at the garage tonight?
Most people said they came because they were curious and like dance (I never actually use the word dance anywhere in the invitation or in the performance), visual art, nontraditional performance spaces, to expand their horizons. Some said because they know me and like me and want to support what I do. One person said “not sure”. That last person is the one I would want to talk too.

My initial reactions/questions are:
What would this experience be like if the audience were strangers to each other? All of these people knew me or knew one of my friends. What would it be like with the general public? Could I experiment with a more formal approach? Or would people feel that “safe” camaraderie that was mentioned regardless of knowing each other?

I need to rethink the handing out of the word bits at the beginning; they began to pair up their words right away and ignored me at the table. Do I want that? Maybe.

The improvisation I do when the “thought” is being read in the chair is not interesting. I don’t have a clear enough score for it. It’s too loose.

I need to rethink the unrolling of the plastic and the reading of the No Manifesto. In both this and the word-pairing section the audience has to work/communicate with each other and I like that. But this part does not feel right yet. It’s too clunky.

Some questions I am asking:
If I remove all the business stuff – why do I still do performance? I’ve been asking myself if my performance practice could simply be something I did in my garage (or one did in their own garage) on Saturdays, rather than being a precious singular event that requires fundraising, inviting and schmoozing with important art people, writing a press release, trying to get a review etc. And then having to cope with the feelings of rejection that, no matter all the other wonderful feelings that come, is always there somewhere. Some presenter didn’t come or the review was bad or if only I had gotten that NEA grant or whatever. I think all that business stuff has to do with wanting a career out of performance. The liberation I feel from NOT doing any of that stuff right now is remarkable. I am also asking if performance making could be “easier” and if so is it still valid. Meaning I usually spend several years making a piece and all the business stuff is in motion and there are lots of other people involved and the public is involved and teaching and touring and and and. Yeah, so If I do structured improvisation in my garage for 20 friends on the weekend is it still important, and to whom? And finally I am wondering what I am trying to communicate to my audience with these performances. I think it has to simply do with humanity in action, with us being in action with each other and to notice that, and to enjoy it.

Salon du Garage #2 – I Know - Survey Results (4/13/2013)

64 individuals were invited via email and encouraged to bring people I did not know. The hand picked list of invitees included personal friends, performing arts community members and student/colleague’s from a local art college.

Second performance in the series April 13, 2013
There were 15 reservations made and 12 people attended. We mingled in the house having snacks and beverages for about ten minutes and then moved to the garage for the performance event. These are the results from the anonymous survey that was handed out after the performance.

Did you feel engaged in the experience?
9 people checked “yes” and 3 people wrote “somewhat”.

If no, what distracted you?
The people who wrote “somewhat” said they are shy or uncomfortable interacting with strangers.

If yes, what engaged you?
Many people were engaged by curiosity, the intimacy of the space and observing the other audience members. One said that they were engaged because they had a say in the performance, enjoyed the mystery of what meaning came from the variables, engaged because it was completely new and different. Being an active part of the performance and clear expectations were noted. The process of understanding the relationships, the casual environment and many activities were engaging to some. One said that attempting to form an experience out of the separate acts was engaging. One said that my eyes were engaging, using their mind and being invested and that the No Manifesto was a little dance history.

Could you recognize why certain things happened?
1 person wrote “maybe”
11 people checked “yes”

If yes, how were you able to recognize this?
Repetition, correlation between action and image/object, the artists’ written, spoken and gestural cues, understanding of relationships over time.

Did you enjoy being asked to participate in the action?
All yes’s and one “sort of”.

Did you feel like a collaborative community with the other audience members?
Two sort of and one said they felt more individual than community, all the rest checked “yes”.

Will you attend another Salon du Garage this month?
Two no’s, four maybe’s and six yes’s.

Why do you think an artist might choose to perform in her garage?
Intimacy, bringing audience and performer closer, convenient and affordable, lack of outside influence and organizational structure means I can do exactly what I want and create my own community – art w/o the institution and the money. It’s a creative space for building, tinkering, fixing, making, sorting. Mythical garage to fortune attraction. It’s a space that almost everyone has but is also very personal, resembles a studio. Its familiarity. It is outside of the typical performance space and changes the audience perceptions of the piece.

In addition to being invited by Dawn, why are you here at the garage tonight?
An atypical experience, curiosity and loving to play, love of art and performance, enjoy being challenged, interested in the creativity of people in the community.

My initial reactions/questions are:
Overall this performance felt more formal than the last. The audience was smaller and less familiar with each other. I knew this in advance from looking at who was on the reservation list and I made adjustments to my performance in response. I had made the change to unroll each piece of plastic myself after each section, which was a better choice. I changed the improv I did while the thought was being read in the chair – I rapped using the contents of the “thought” coupled with a word associated with each hat (CalArts/creative, Fedora/Dangerous, Floppy/Relaxed, Straw/Enlightened). I also made the word match into the “exquisite poem”, which was also stronger. The No Manifesto bits were handed out during my animation improv then I had each person read them in order, also a good choice. So by this second iteration I had improved all the clunky bits and this became the structure for the remaining three shows.

Salon du Garage #2 – I Know - Survey Results (4/20/2013)

64 individuals were invited via email and encouraged to bring people I did not know. The hand picked list of invitees included personal friends, performing arts community members and student/colleague’s from a local art college.

Third performance in the series April 20, 2013
There were 13 reservations made and 9 people attended. We mingled in the house having snacks and beverages for about ten minutes and then moved to the garage for the performance event. These are the results from the anonymous survey that was handed out after the performance.

Did you feel engaged in the experience?
All 9 people checked “yes”.

If no, what distracted you?
The people who wrote “somewhat” said they are shy or uncomfortable interacting with strangers.

If yes, what engaged you?
The relaxed, connected, “warm fuzzy” feeling, the intimacy, seeing the connections and repetitions (the piece itself), Dawn herself was engaging for some. The personal nature of the piece moved people. Being involved, watching others smile and respond. Verbal communication from artist to audience. Felt that their participation was desired and needed but not “required” – there is a difference.

Could you recognize why certain things happened?
9 people checked “yes”

If yes, how were you able to recognize this?
Logic, repetition, there was an emotional narrative with correlating emotions – from tools to outfits to images that suggested witnessing the bumps along the road of a career, visual narrative.

Did you enjoy being asked to participate in the action?
9 people checked “yes”

Did you feel like a collaborative community with the other audience members?
All yesses and one sort of and one no who said they felt in collaboration with the performer more than the other audience members.

Will you attend another Salon du Garage this month?
Five noes, three yesses and one maybe.

Why do you think an artist might choose to perform in her garage?
It’s a place where you work on things, to change our expectations and assumptions of space, to control the environment and stimuli, it’s a half-space of the home full of things we’ve all got but different, ease and freedom, personal and unpretentious, it’s her laboratory.

In addition to being invited by Dawn, why are you here at the garage tonight?
Most people said something about loving live performance and wanting to experience creativity and participate. A few people said because someone else brought them.

My initial reactions/questions are:
Overall this performance felt less formal than the last but not as loose as the first. The audience was smaller and less familiar with each other but there were pockets of familiarity. I improved the bit with the words and I think this got people real comfortable with each other. But there was less involvement with the tools and the images. People felt more hesitant to move them.

Salon du Garage #2 – I Know - Survey Results (4/27/2013)

64 individuals were invited via email and encouraged to bring people I did not know. In addition, local choreographer Linda Austin sent information out in her newsletter. I know that two people attended because of that. The handpicked list of invitees included personal friends, performing arts community members and student/colleague’s from a local art college.

Fourth performance in the series April 27, 2013
There were 13 reservations made and 13 people attended, 2 did not fill in surveys. We mingled on the pad outside the garage mainly because a woman in a wheelchair attended and there was no way for her to get indie the house due to the steps. She is in fact half of a performing group called Wobbly that is herself and another wheelchair bound performer. I felt rather bad about not having considered that wheelchairs would have a hard time in the garage. But it was also not raining so we hung outside there for a while. These are the results from the anonymous survey that was handed out after the performance.

Did you feel engaged in the experience?
All 11 people checked “yes”

If no, what distracted you?
All 11 people checked “yes”

If yes, what engaged you?
Immediate invitation to participate and interact, curiosity, fast paced fun and intriguing, Dawn’s smiling face, small spaces for each piece (focus?), Dawn’s presence/eyes, movement quality, being in a small space (intimacy), being in the game as it was being played, humor, patterns, being able to do “what urges me”, no cues and no acting (being real?), and interaction with other participants.

Could you recognize why certain things happened?
8 yesses and 3 said sometimes.

If yes, how were you able to recognize this?
Repetition and orientation of tool/image having an effect was the general answer for everyone, one person wrote that they could not explain it but the recognized it.

Did you enjoy being asked to participate in the action?
All 11 people checked “yes”

Did you feel like a collaborative community with the other audience members?
8 people checked “yes”, one person checked “no”, one person said sometimes and one person wrote, “a little – I felt more collaborative with the artist then the audience second.”

Will you attend another Salon du Garage this month?
Most said no because they knew it was the last in the series.

Why do you think an artist might choose to perform in her garage?
To make the point that “all the world’s a stage” and to encourage impromptu performance experiences, it’s different, free space and “free” in many ways, fun, limits impose innovation, intimacy of space, freedom to connect with audience in an unconventional way, to explore what you can make out of what is already there, creative and resourceful, convenient and no expense, to be in a familiar and safe place, home – easy connection to life as art.

In addition to being invited by Dawn, why are you here at the garage tonight?
To experience something different, something new, curiosity, to support creative energy in PDX, like to see the unexpected, to step out into the unknown, interested in performance, to gain an understanding (maybe a repeat participant?).
Added comment – “I feel lucky to be engaged in this experience. It felt alive and fun!” and “Fun. Keep going!”

My initial reactions/questions are:
By this one, the fourth, I had the structure completely worked out. Though the transitions are always different and spontaneous, the “sections” were worked out so I felt pretty relaxed. Also, several people brought people that I did not know making it the group where I knew the least people out of all the shows. Nice.

Some questions I am asking:
Interesting that I had a guest in a wheelchair and that there was really no way for her to participate in the tool game (because of the level change in the floor) or in the clothesline game (because the line was too high up). Her presence made me want to think about how inclusive this show really is. I had not considered physical ability a prerequisite. Now I am considering that.

Salon du Garage #2 – I Know / Survey Questions


I’d like to know your experience of this experience. Please fill in this brief survey.

What date did you attend?

April 6|
April 13|
April 20|
April 27|

Did you feel engaged in the experience?

Yes|
No|

If no, what distanced you?


If yes, what engaged you?


Could you recognize why certain things happened?

Yes|
No|

If yes, how were you able to recognize this?


Did you enjoy being asked to participate in the action?

Yes|
No|

Did you feel like a collaborative community with the other audience members?

Yes|
No|

Will you attend another Salon du Garage performance this month?

Yes|
No|

In one sentence or so answer the following:

Why do you think an artist might choose to perform in her garage?



In addition to being invited by Dawn, why are you here at the garage tonight?



Please elaborate on your answers or make additional comments on the back. Thank you.