On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013 will feature six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. Chelsea Murphy and Magda San Millan will be performing their dance-theater work Rooster & Snowball, in which, as they explain, “Two crazy motherfuckers try to change the modern dance world right before your very eyes.”
Well, let’s find out more!
FringeArts: Why is your show title Rooster & Snowball?
Magda: The title is the names of our characters and the names came from the hats: I found this hipster looking hat with a mohawk made of yarn and Chelsea’s is a round white thing. We wore our hats during tech and afterwards I was talking to David Brick [of Headlong Dance Theater] about the characters and the names came from the shapes of the hats. But in a great way the hats influenced the characters, crystallized their essence into this direction they were already going. The hats made the men, so to speak.
Chelsea: You keep saying “characters” but when people have called them “characters” in the past we’ve corrected them. I don’t think they are characters what we are doing. They’re more like . . . what’s that word?
Magda: Personas? Personalities? Essences?
Chelsea: I just think there isn’t any acting involved in this situation. These are the goofy, exhausted, angry-about-stuff versions of ourselves that come out when we are in rehearsal together.
Magda: Right, but to differentiate between the two: Rooster is more aggressive, explosive and Snowball has this icy exterior and weapon metaphor going on. Rooster throws the Snowball.
Chelsea: Why didn’t we think that??
Magda: I just did, I just did think of it.
Chelsea: Okay, but we also wanted to talk about the shared character trait between them: the “failed Rebel” we call it. Both of our performances are about this failed rebel.
Magda: Someone who projects rebel but follows all the rules on a daily basis.
Chelsea: Or not even that they project the rebel image, but other people perceive them that way.
Magda: But they still get nervous about jaywalking.
Chelsea: They listen to all their teachers, they don’t steal ever, they don’t cut lines . . .
Magda: They don’t cross off limits boundaries. They’re polite, meek . . . then they make art like this.
Chelsea: BOOM! Next question.
FringeArts: Where did you grow up and what was growing up there like?
Magda: I’d like to ask a different question if that’s ok with you Josh?
Magda: I’d like to ask us if the anger that is bubbling over in Rooster and Snowball had sources in our childhoods? I think anger is a long living underground emotion and I bet it started way back then and is manifesting from those early years in this current dance/theater piece. I think I have an indignant anger at the world in general. The world disappoints me. Why should I suffer when I feel so special? Why am I lonely? Why don’t I have health insurance? Why do I scrub toilets? Why are so many people I meet unhappy and satisfied with it?
Chelsea: I think mine is towards authority. Sometimes it feels like whoever is in charge shouldn’t be, and is doing the WORST job. Just a real frustration with seeing things not getting done or getting done poorly and feeling like I have to be the responsible one and take care of everyone else. That’s what I think drives Snowball’s anger. Which is funny because it makes me sound like such an angsty teen or rebel, which I wasn’t. I was the most well behaved child.
Magda: Yeah me too.
Magda and Chelsea: FAILED REBELS!
FringeArts: What kind of performance is Rooster & Snowball?
Chelsea: It’s the best kind! It’s a great collage of many forms that we’ve both been exposed to. There’s modern dance in there, and the critique of modern dance. We both went to the American Dance Festival this past summer and HATED it. But that’s another conversation. There is clowning and more performance presence stuff, which is important to us—the level of awareness we bring to the performance of each moment, and playing with that level of energy.
Magda: I’d say it’s an in-between piece. In between dance and theater, in between character and real life, in between funny and sad. It’s a Gemini piece. It’s a tight rope walking piece. You don’t know what will happen next, if the performers (us) if we are going to fall flat on our faces.
Chelsea: And sometimes we don’t even know!
FringeArts: How did you go about creating this piece?
Magda: This piece was incubated during our time at the Headlong Performance Institute (HPI). And really, it was the perfect structure for us to make the piece. In dramaturgy class we mapped and investigated all of the concepts popping up in our rehearsals. In clown class we worked on comedic timing, in movement class we practiced dancing in unison improvisationally, in creative process we were exposed to a plethora of ways to get the piece from infancy to teen angst to performance. We really used every single class to the benefit of the piece.
FringeArts: What do you like about creating work together?
Chelsea: The honesty. Sometimes it is time consuming because we have to talk about how we feel about everything. But it’s so necessary. Like if Magda says my voice sounds nasal and that hurts my feelings we have to make it okay before we figure out the music transition we were working on.
Magda: Because this piece was the beginning of a friendship—an in depth relationship. So when we rehearse we have to talk about friend things too. And all of the personal friend stuff finds its way into performance. Nothing is wasted, that’s what I like. Also, Chelsea will try any idea I come in with. Except for “lying babies at a party.” That was a skit idea I loved and she won’t try it to this day.
FringeArts: You credit this show to your time at the Headlong Performance Institute, how has the institute influenced your work since?
Magda: We were afraid it would all be over when HPI ended. That was a horrifying thought because both Chelsea and I felt we had found our “people” in our HPI teachers. So much of their ideas and philosophies resonated so strongly with our own. Their vigorous thinking around performance and then their goodness as people just blew us away. We wanted to move into the womb of their hearts. And we are still trying. Right now we are working on a collaborative piece with David Brick. It’s great. Rehearsals are so much fun.
Chelsea: And deep too—not just fun. We talk about sad shit and laugh. Which is exactly how I want my rehearsals to be always, forever.
FringeArts: How do you spend your last 15 minutes before showtime?
Chelsea: Freaking out! I mean, does anyone really have control over how they spend that time? 1. We make HUGE last minute changes, 2. I take a nervous shit, 3. I list all of the big changes to Magda and try to get her to practice them with me.
Magda: Then I’m like, no we don’t need to practice. We’ll just PERFORM it really well. Then I start doubting the whole thing. I have a huge sense of responsibility to the world through the art I make. In those last minutes I can’t remember if what I’m putting out there is good. I want to take it all back.
Chelsea: And so I have to be like: it’s good Magda, it’s good, this is a wonderful thing we’re doing.
Magda: And when we get onstage I remember.
Thanks Magda and Chelsea, looking forward to the show!