Dancing on the phone, or near the phone, or...over the phone?
Because I can't stop myself from explaining where we've been: I haven't been blogging for Mad King Thomas because I'm not sure what is happening with Mad King Thomas. We have been working on this crazy phone dance experiment for many months now and the fact is we don't (I don't) know what to say about it. We have gotten ourselves in deep, this time--a lot of work to do, not a lot of consensus on what it will be. We've made dozens of tiny dances and only about four of them have been any good.
But here is what I'm thinking about the phone dance right now:
What is dance? It's been a question that is both deliciously meaty and distastefully mealy. The reason it comes up is because you tell people you're doing a telephone dance and they get all kinds of radical notions about what that means, including: I am going to learn a dance by telephone! I'm going to hear a dance happen over the phone! I am going to hate it because it's like super advanced jazz and I really don't understand!
So, first of all, we think: Maybe let's take the word "dance" out of it. I thought we had, more or less, found our own working definition of dance, but of course we have not, because how could we have? Dance is an infuriatingly useless word, when it comes down to it. Dance is what I did in the chalky pink studios of my youth. Dance is what we do when we are drunk on Friday nights. Dance is going to the ballet. Dance is when we have to pee and hop back and forth between our feet. For Mad King Thomas, using the signifier dance is both habit and activism. Habit because we are dancers by training, and activism because we all dance through most of our lives so we slap the word dance on our pedestrian shows to make it all click. (This is a really bad idea as far as marketing goes, though.)
There's also this question of preparation. With a stage show, the audience is usually versed in the rules. You buy a ticket. There is a start time. You sit in a seat in the dark and the performers are on a stage in the light. You clap when it is over, and then you go home. Since we have deleted the stage, the number of variables to consider is immense: When does the phone call happen? What does the phone call hope to do? Does the audience member prepare themselves for the call or is it a surprise? Each of these variables has a huge impact on the phone call so we have been getting lost in decision trees of extreme size.
Anyway, I think I'm finally excited about it. We still are not entirely sure what will happen, but I like the opportunity. I like being out of our comfort zone, although it has been hard. Very hard. I like that we will reach a whole new audience who have never seen our stage works and have no idea what to expect. I like that I will not be required to eat anything disgusting on stage. I am excited to let you in on it. I think it will be one of the most exhausting months of my life, to be on the phone so much, but you know, I'm game.
(Photos by adorabe baby sister Trista King!)