Winner of Outstanding Female Performance at the National Dance Awards and a Compass Commissions Artist for 2015/16, Wendy Houstoun will be performing her award winning show Pact with Pointlessness at the Laban Theatre this week (5 March). In the run up to this performance, we asked her to tell us about her week in preparation.
After a break from the nightmare of admin I am back in the studio preparing for the run of performances of Pact with Pointlessness in March, the first being at Trinity Laban.
The last performance was in Jersey just before Xmas so not long ago, but five weeks is long enough to allow the piece to feel new to me again.
I use the time I have to warm up and play around with specific tasks and ideas that come to me through moving. And then I make sure I run the piece everyday. The daily run through brings new ideas to me through the doing of it and I am still discovering things, finding details, locating the weaknesses as I go along.
I am also working at Greenwich Dance and will have rehearsed in all the spaces by the time I finish. The large borough hall is good for running at speed, throwing energy up to the heights and organising the spatial stuff. The minor hall is good for the mood of the piece, really listening to the sound and structure of the piece but my favourite space is the very small back room. I don’t know why. It seems to allow more internal physical work to happen, less pressure to fill the space perhaps. It also has a very nice light – especially towards the end of the day when the warmth of the space closes in with the light and the work starts to feel really atmospheric.
The repetition of the work sits against the events that influence the body in ways that all build into the piece.
One day, I manage to take three wrong trains and arrive after three and a half hours of travelling. The effort in making the work specific and precise is quite hard.
Another day there is a bit of a row in the car park which leaves the air filled with edgy antagonism and then, I find it hard to calm my body into a focussed attention when the arguments seem to insinuate themselves into the room.
The best day is when my niece arrives with the family. Jasper (5) and Isobel (7) chase me for an hour around the space as my warm up. Afterwards I notice my responses have got quicker and the speed of thought is much faster as well. Perhaps I have been doing the wrong warm up all this time.
I have a couple more days left – and am hoping to shed the admin demands that have started to attack my mornings and nights leaving the work feeling like a squeezed middle. I hate the way that what I think of as the “ real” work becomes so hard to keep as the main thing but as the performance gets closer I manage to block it all out and concentrate on the only point of the whole endeavour. The Pact with Pointlessness.
For more information and to book tickets for Wendy’s upcoming show, visit the Trinity Laban website.