We seem to think/ask/write/speak about intention a lot as both makers and watchers. I wonder whether there is something in this – a general desire to ‘get it right’ or fully understand what has been presented to us on stage (or, perhaps more accurately, during a performance). I love being that infuriating person who answers questions like ‘What did you mean…’, or ‘Was this bit about…’ with ‘What did you see?’. And after they explain what they thought it meant, or what it meant to them, I answer ‘Well, that’s what it’s about.’ Because, surely, as a maker, that is all we can ever ask of an audience? That they watch, and decide for themselves?
And yet, having said that, there is something in the notion of intention that suggests a sense clarity, of thoughtfulness, of crafting? That we have an idea that we want to share? I suppose it’s a double-edged sword; both help and hindrance at different points.
But I’ve also been thinking about physical intention – in performance. In fact, I guess this odd train-of-thought post actually started with physical intention. I guess if in performance movement the body is the signifier, the way in which we place or position it must come down to some sort of intention – both for what what meanings it will construct, as well as the movement – the physical act – in that moment.
Am I rambling?
Anyway, this all came from watching a programme on which there was a clip of Stranvinksy – at age 82 – conducting the Firebird Suite. I was amazed at the dexterity and liveliness of his ‘performance’, but even more so at how the smallest of his motions very clearly instructed the musicians. In his starched suit, this tiny hunched figures of a man, beads of sweat slowly (achingly slowly) rolling down his temple, he seemed frail and yet totally in control. An arch of an eyebrow, a slight lift of a finger, a tilt of the head, was enough instruction. Perhaps because there are all sorts of rules and conventions in conducting which make the meaning explicit in the movement, this is a moot point, but the clarity of his physicality, the tension within his body for me speaks of something deliberate, a clarity, intention.
I’ve gone off one one.
But here’s a clip of Stravinsky:
Which of course, made me think of this:
But I fear this is another post for another day…