updates connected to the book Idylls for a Bare Stage
& to performances of the Idylls
& other initiatives related to the Art of the Poetic Monologue

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Performer Profile: Sue Struve

 Sue Struve in "A Native Chief's Captive Woman Guards One Freshly Caught"

Sue Struve - "Captive Woman" in Idylls

     The incident in this idyll has its source in the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, and corresponds to his fascination with real stories of people who chose so-called savage life, over civilization. (Noting how here, and in the profile just previously, the form of the Idyll is conducive to the presentation of incidents, as is this approach to acting - why we'll also present a reading of pieces by Stalin-era Soviet poet Daniil Kharms on November 20th, about which more on another post, writings somewhere between prose poems and stories, forms nicely translated from the Russian sluchai as "incidents," or sometimes "incidences").

     The "poetic" has always tended to ally itself with the wild, with wildness, with conscious decision to choose the wild over the tame: a tame poetry isn't poetry at all.  So too, for the Idylls, it has been my intention to create an acting technique for the poetic;  this is to keep the performance untamed, to free up the performer and allow entry into a script with immediacy, beyond the conventions of getting into character as if character were a logical and analyzable framework of motivations rather than the running stream of an irreducible consciousness.  Sue's work on this piece involves her recurrent eschewing the imposition of a logical framework to her character, and allowing herself to be taken forward moment to moment by the currents of language, the words of her character's thoughts.

     Poetry naturally gives itself over to this wildness, whether in form or content or both (getting to what reality lies beneath or in the interstices of sanctioned appearance/conventional psychosocial coherence): this, through its orientation to the true nature of our words as access points to aliveness, powers, and awareness.  In giving oneself over to the power of words in each moment - as writer, reader, actor, or audience - the subtleties tell, as does the sense, and shadings and shadow have their play; without our imposing an overriding, simplified interpretation, it's much more real.
     There's a shadow sense to Sue's piece, and fierce risk-taking in her performance;  the danger is you'll breathe in the wilderness with her, and - although caught between her and her captive - start to find indoor air stale.

     Sue Struve has appeared in Six Degrees of Separation (Ouisa), The Shadow Box (Agnes), Permanent Collection (Gillian), Electra (Clytemnestra), Rebecca (Beatrice), and Harvey (Betty Chumley), among other roles, at Bay Theatre Company, Dignity Players, Colonial Players of Annapolis, and elsewhere in the D.C. area. She has also performed at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, The Actors' Center, and the Capital Fringe Festival. She is grateful to Magus for sharing his approach to acting poetic text, which has transformed the way she approaches a role.

Gratitude right back to Sue (after that end note to the bio she sent), for all the work and intensity she brings to the role, and for her engagement with the Idylls approach;  she'll be kicking off the show November 20th.

The issue above regarding the irreducibility of poetry to logic reminds me of what became the tagline for Yockadot Poetics Theatre Project, (2005-2010);  Richard Foreman's dictum,"Understand - it ALWAYS makes sense.  Sense can't be avoided.  If it first seems to be non-sense, wait:  roots will reveal themselves."

And of course, I can't pass up an opportunity to quote Heraclitus:  "The unapparent connection is stronger than the apparent one";  stronger is the word, or better - a wilder strength in the poetic leaps and juxtapositions.

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