WE MUST COLLIDE

Call for Artists

WE MUST COLLIDE, a new interdisciplinary dance work by Dancing Monkey Laboratories.

Creation begins: Mid-September.

Performances: Fluid Festival – ProArts @ Noon October 15, Physical Therapy Cabaret October 19-20.

Dancing Monkey Laboratories requires 4 dancers for a workshop creation of a new interdisciplinary work, WE MUST COLLIDE, which will culminate in performances during the Springboard Dance Fluid Festival, October 2014. 

Male and female dancers must be over 18, comfortable with a highly collaborative, energetic and experimental environment. Dancers who have experience with improvisation and high energy, physical, kinetic movement, as well as with text work are preferred. 

Rehearsals will begin mid-September. Availability is required September 27-28, 1-5 pm, and for the performance dates October 15, 19, 20. Remaining rehearsals will be determined once casting is completed. An honorarium will be granted. 

Please respond to dancingmonkeylab@gmail.com by September 5, 2014 with a brief description of your artistic experience and a video link to recent work. 

Melissa Tuplin, Choreographer

Mike Czuba, Writer/Director

Nathaniel Schmidt, Composer

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WE MUST COLLIDE is a high energy, kinetic, interdisciplinary piece exploring the violence of stillness against the explosion of a touch into the control and strength of a developed impression. With modern technology literally pulling us apart, we must physically collide into each other to be noticed, felt and seen.

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Satie et Cocteau – Le Film…

(S)cientist Mike Czuba has just finished a screenplay version of his play Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet. The screenplay stays true to the stage version with some cinematic expansions and imaginings of the world of memories Cocteau and Actor are working in.

It is an Art Film – but one with an international reach.

Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet is a surreal story of love, betrayal and ambition between a director and an actor battling it out on a theatre stage during the final rehearsal of a play that is never to be performed.

Satie et Cocteau is about the classical music composer Erik Satie and his complex, opium-fueled relationship with the surrealist poet Jean Cocteau. Fifteen years after Satie’s death, Cocteau is directing an American Actor in the role of Satie in the play Soyons Vulgaires (Let Us Be Vulgar)*, written by Cocteau in 1939. The action takes place during the final rehearsal, which Cocteau has only called because he feels the Actor does not fully understand the role. We discover that Cocteau’s true intentions are for the Actor to fully embody Satie, to be somehow possessed by him, so he can finally exorcise him from his life.

*No original copy of Soyons Vulgaires has ever been found. The events described in the text have been reassembled using the Actor’s own journal written during the rehearsal process. The journal might have been purchased for a dollar from a barn sale in Ohio in 1972 and was only recently re-discovered.

The play has been produced in Calgary, AB. (http://dancingmonkeylab.com/satie-et-cocteau-2012/) and has received staged readings in Chicago and Berlin. The play is currently being considered by various theatres for production.

“…a truly excellent piece of theatre which deals convincingly and imaginatively with one of the most fraught love-hate relationships in modern French art. It has real depth and excellent dramatic pacing and is a work of art in itself.” Robert Orledge, Composer and Satie scholar.

“I admired the irreverence, theatricality and sheer fun of the piece. I found it to be a very enjoyable read.” Bob White, Director of New Plays – Stratford Festival.
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After Us The Savage God… a new work.

Some Monkeys got together to read a draft of Mike Czuba’s new work:

After Us the Savage God.

“One part (un)historical biography – one part biting satire on our modern media and political environment.”

The history books all suggest Alfred Jarry died from a combination of malnutrition and a super-human consumption of alcohol. After Us The Savage God will offer another hypothesis – Time travel. With his life long interest in science and cycling, Alfred Jarry secretly managed to build a time machine in his decrepit apartment. He used the knowledge acquired in his travels through time to write his avant-guard and at times incomprehensible plays and novels and in the process create a series of unbelievable characters. One of these creations, the beast known as UBU, decided he would like to become real and tormented Jarry for much of his adult life. UBU inserted himself into Jarry’s world so much that the fabric of reality began to tear apart. Was UBU created by Jarry, or was Jarry created by UBU?

*Warning: Contains Adult language, fluids and depravity.

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What You Will See If You Look.

Dancing Monkey Laboratories has started a new blog:
http://whatyouwillseeifyoulook.wordpress.com

The purpose is to step away from the grind and take a few moments in the day to day to slow down and look for the beauty that exists all around us. Life can suck when trying to take it all in in our always connected, high-speed ‘existence’. But when we go so fast, we can forget to stop and look around…

There is (A)rt! and beauty all around us. Dancing Monkey Laboratories would like to help share some of it. We all have cameras on our phones these days, so if you see something beautiful – Street Art, the way the sun hits something, the way a shadow plays, the wondrous banality of everyday life, where you work, live, play – what do you see?

Take a picture and send it to us and we’ll share your little bit of beauty with the interwebs! Here are the rules:
1- See a beautiful thing.
2- Look at beautiful thing.
3- Continue looking at beautiful thing.
4- Take picture of beautiful thing and email it to us.
5- Include your name, where pic was taken, time of day, why you took picture (optional).
6- If you have a portfolio or on-line gallery send us the link! we #hustle for our friends in the lab!
7- If you wish to use any images posted, you must first receive permission from the individual submitters.
8- See beautiful things.

email us at dancingmonkeylab@gmail.com

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SATELLITES – Oct. 2013.

Dancing Monkey Laboratories is pleased to be able to share with you our production of SATELLITES that was produced at the Big Secret Theatre in Calgary, Alberta. October 2013. We are continuing to develop our mission to allow our original works to exist in multiple media and we are learning the how’s and what’s along the way. This development demands from us that we ask questions of how the work might be presented, how might it shift or change or grow from stage to film or vice-versa and from eye to ear… Dancing Monkey Laboratories wishes to share the fundamental core of each piece, to find it’s centre and offer it to you, how ever you might wish to receive it.

“This is the most beautiful, honest and creative performance I have seen in a long, long time.”

Stageplay Written and Directed by Mike Czuba
Choreography by Melissa Tuplin
Original Composition by Nathaniel Schmidt
Filmed and edited by: Harry Papavlaspoloulos, Jon Tsamalidis for Sitting With Giants.
Actors: Laura Allen and Steven Evanik
Dancers: Melissa Tuplin and Jason Owin F. Galeos
Design by Derek Paulich and Leon Schwesinger
Stage Management by Marcia Liber
Publicity by Michelle Brandenburg
Graphic Design by Jarett Sitter: www.jaretts.com
Music composed by Nathaniel Schmidt
Producer: Donovan Seidle
Engineer: Spencer Cheyne
Featuring: The Kensington Sinfonia
Violin I: Donovan Seidle, Hyewon Kim
Violin II: Jeremy Gabbert, Lenora Leggatt
Viola: Dean O’Brien, Carl Boychuk
Cello: Tom Megee, Rafael Hoekman
Piano: Nathaniel Schmidt

Soundtrack album available on iTunes

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Behave Yourself, Please: A Monkey is Watching You

How Music Informed the Writing of Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet.

by Mike Czuba

Within the pages of the script this play is attempting to find a Rock & Roll spirit. Only this play, Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet, is about Erik Satie, a Minimalist Classical composer who died in 1925, as told by the Poet/Artist Jean Cocteau. The concept of the play is that we are watching Cocteau direct an Actor playing Satie in a play that he allegedly wrote in1939 called ‘Soyons Vulgaires[1]’. The action takes place during what turns out to be the final day of rehearsals, after Cocteau has learned that he’s lost his financing. This last rehearsal is where Cocteau wishes to have the Actor fully embody Satie so Cocteau can posthumously demand Satie acknowledge all that he had done for him. This ultimately backfires and Cocteau ends up a broken man, asking Satie for forgiveness. The framework, bordering on absurd and meta-theatrical, allows the play to ‘stage’ sections of Satie’s life as they suit the narrative. Throughout the play the audience will discover both Satie and Cocteau’s desires and philosophies about Music and Art within the conflict between Cocteau and the Actor. So how can Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau be Rock & Roll? After 18 months of writing and research, the answer is: easily. Rock & Roll is tension, aggression, attraction and desire and isn’t that what we want to see on our theatre stages? Satie was music. He created, influenced and foreshadowed. He was a precursor, a thorn, a distraction, a jester, and a magician.

During my research I teased myself with these grand academic notions of breaking down and analyzing his music and layering them into the play. I set out to read different books on musical semiotics to decode the significance of his music. That all ended in a little under a week when I realized I was way out of my depth. Music has been an integral part of my entire life, but I never learned how to read music or felt I needed to understand the larger cultural significance of a suspended ninth chord. Music has always been a visceral, instinctual endeavour for me. So I deciphered what Satie said about his music (which was very little) and what others said about it, then distilled that information to permit those impulses to inform me, letting the music, not the theory of it, tell me where it wanted to go.

Cocteau needed to talk about his and everyone else’s (A)rt hoping he would be able to understand it, or make others believe that he knew the secrets that lay behind its creation. Satie would not talk about his music and refused to analyze it. So how do you communicate with someone who refuses to explain his own language? And then how do you communicate that to an audience? Just before he died, when he and Cocteau were no longer on speaking terms, Satie wrote, “Music requires a great deal from those who wish to serve her … A true musician must be subjugated to his Art . . . he must put himself above human miseries . . . he must draw courage from within himself . . . from within himself alone.” We can take those words and place them in front of any band, musician or artist today; Springsteen, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Prince[2], Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Ron Sexsmith, Feist, The Mars Volta and on and on. By staying true to the music, I would be staying true to both men, allowing the music to act as another layer of antagonism within the structure of the dramatic conflict and thus creating Rock & Roll theatre.

The obvious top layer materialization of the music was going to be found in Satie’s actual compositions. As the concept of the play developed, presenting various elements of Satie’s life, the easiest part was simply narrowing down the time periods and then matching them with an appropriate piece of music. Even though Satie would have approved[3], I knew it had to go beyond just dropping in a track here and there to provide a backdrop. I was not going to receive a musicology degree before finishing the writing of the play so I studied how Satie composed to determine what he was trying to achieve with his music. I seized structural elements from the music to use as structural elements in the play. I adapted Satie’s musicality and created a ‘scriptuality,’ a non scientific, completely instinctual interpretation of the musical shapes, from notes to words, script + structure + musicality = scriptuality.

In his book Erik Satie, Alan Gillmor writes, “Satie’s music, with its characteristic mosaic structure and its collage-like juxtaposition of familiar musical (and extramusical) elements, suited Cocteau’s purpose admirably” and it now suited my purposes perfectly. I did not want to break down and analyze the music to simply place it into individual scenes, but to have his musical ideas of simplicity, beauty and honesty live and breathe through the entire play. I began to think of Cocteau and Actor as two hands on a giant metaphorical piano.

Another element of the music I wanted to utilize was its power as an entity. Yes, Satie wanted music to resemble a chair and not “go into convulsions,” but for my purposes I wanted the music to carry a certain amount of antagonism between the characters. Music was Satie’s (A)rt and the thing that Cocteau could never fully penetrate, so it already had an element of violence. It would not have been enough if all the Actor did was ‘talk’ because Cocteau is the poet and words are his domain. Having the Actor use certain pieces as metaphorical punches when he felt words alone were not making his point would allow the music to live on stage. An example of this musical antagonism is Satie’s Vexations, which I included as the intermission’s music. The piece is a repetitive, slightly dissonant work that Satie recommended be played 840 times and as Robert Orledge suggests in Satie the Composer can create “hallucinatory effects”. The title alone is antagonistic, hinting that Satie knew this piece of music would drive the player mad.

I also investigated the idea of ‘sketches’ or unfinished pieces of music by a composer. Satie abandoned many unpublished, unknown and forgotten pieces of sheet music in his apartment. I decided to look at the play as a series of sketches, of unfinished moments in time, because Cocteau was never finished ‘re-writing’ them. I also used a literal version of sketches within the play when Cocteau hands Actor a pile of music that he wants to be performed during the show and the Actor notices that none of the pieces are actually finished. I, in turn, took sketches of Cocteau and Satie’s ‘relationship’ and finished them in a way that I hoped remained true to their respective characters. These elements have allowed the music of Satie to exist as its own character and the concepts of music as man, collage, as a physical entity and as sketches have given the play its scriptuality.

Early in the development of the play, before the heavy research began, I scribbled a narrative equation into my notebook:

‘Actor needs Cocteau,
Cocteau needs Satie,
Satie needs Cocteau,
Cocteau needs Actor’.

When I returned to review my old notes, I was struck byhow this ‘doodle’ had become the actual shape of the play and how it fit so easily into the very shape of Satie’s music and the mirrored structure of Satie’s music to Parade.

Parade Mirror

Image from: Robert Orledge Satie the Composer  p.173

In writing Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet I was interested in creating a piece of theatre that challenged audience’s expectations of what theatre, music and (A)rt is and could be. The spirit of Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau are within the pages of the play and I hope to continue their work by challenging conformity and to never, ever be predictable. Sounds like Rock & Roll to me.

**Robert Orledge, a Satie scholar and composer, who has written two books about Satie, says the play is: “…a truly excellent piece of theatre which deals convincingly and imaginatively with one of the most fraught love-hate relationships in modern French art. It has real depth and excellent dramatic pacing and is a work of art in itself”

“I admired the irreverence, theatricality and sheer fun of the piece. I found it to be a very enjoyable read” Bob WhiteDirector of New Plays – Stratford Festival.

[1] No original copy of Soyons Vulgaires has ever been found. The events of the play have been (re)assembled using the Actor’s own journal written during the rehearsal process. The journal was purchased for a dollar from a barn sale in Ohio in 1972 and was only recently (re)discovered… maybe.

[2] Prince is god.

[3] Satie had no patience for over-analysis.