Collisions

Yale Cabaret 2016

This piece began with a question of process: How can the instincts  and training of improvised music be applied to devised  interdisciplinary work with artists from other disciplines? Because in  the world of improvised music, often the most satisfying and intense  performances are the result of an unforeseen circumstance. A missed  cue, a chance session with a new artist, even a broken piece of  equipment—these things can become the source of the work, not a  hindrance to it. I believe that music in this medium can become a  vehicle for unconscious, spontaneous expression, and in turn, the  artistic risks and chances can be felt by the audience in a deep,  satisfying, and cathartic way. I created Collisions as a trans-media collage play that utilizes improvised music in conjunction with words, images, and dance to explore the creativity released when disparate elements unexpectedly meet head-on.

 

For Collisions, I assembled a team of collaborators that included three  actors, four musicians, two projection designers, two lighting  designers, two choreographers, two scenic designers, and two  dramaturgs, as well as a co-director, an additional sound designer, a  stage manager, a technical director, and a producer. Over a period of  six weeks, I led this group in working to craft the scaffolding that  would help shape and support the improvised work of the live  performances. The resulting shows proved to be incredibly free-  spirited and immediate, yet each artist from each discipline had a  unique and unusual journey through this process.

In 2017, I attended the FOOT (Festival of Original Theatre) conference at the University of Toronto to speak about Collisions and participate in the panel discussion “Postdramatic and Interdisciplinary Sonic Dramaturgies.”

Collisions
Conceived and written by Frederick Kennedy
Co-directed - Kevin Hourigan and Frederick Kennedy
Additional text: Jeremy O. Harris
Additional music: Molly Joyce

Choreography: Jake Ryan Lozano, Gretchen Wright 

Dramaturgy: Ashley Chang, Jeremy O. Harris

Set Design: Choul Lee, John Bondi-Ernoehazy

Costume Design: Cole McCarty

Lighting Design: Elizabeth Green, Krista Smith

Sound Design: Christopher Ross-Ewart, Frederick Kennedy Projection Design: Yana Biryukova, Michael Commendatore

With:

Musicians:

Frederick Kennedy, drumset/percussion, MAX

Kevin Patton, guitar, custom interactive system design

Evan Smith, saxophone/woodwinds

Matt Wigton, bass

Collision 1

There is neon, the sound of static electricity. The space is lit blue, but slowly,  imperceptibly it is shifting red. An anthropologist at a microphone introduces herself. She  is studying the effects of repeated concussions on the mind. This applies to athletes,  soldiers, victims of crashes and abuse. This turns into musings on the nature of how we  develop our own sense of self and how collisions and concussions can also be emotional,  metaphorical, cultural. She is insightful, but also humorous. As she continues, a light  reveals two dancers, sitting. They start to rise, and then begin tumbling, falling into and  over each other and the chairs. After a few moments, the actor’s speech begins to turn  into a song. At this point we realize the actor’s microphone is being picked up and  processed electronically. The sound of that text is bouncing back and forth and around  the room. Lights come up brighter on the two dancers center, and they begin a piece  choreographed and rehearsed by one of the collaborators. The musical accompaniment,  however, is not rehearsed. It is spontaneous, and these musicians interact with and  support the dancers, freely. The projection screens light up with images that evoke a past  summer of violence, and then we are with three actors—the anthropologist is now a  counselor of some sort; the couple is seeking her help. They’ve lost someone. The  performance continues.

•Each performance: a road map, with different performers, destinations, and  results.

"The point of mixing media is in the mixing, generally. Here, one is often struck by the wherewithal to sculpt with sound and image and physical performer. Collisions can be a very immersive or contemplative experience, and, in the best tradition of live performance, it makes you glad you were there."

— New Haven Review 2016

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