End of Bouffons at Gaulier
It’s the end of the second 2-week course. Just one more course to go.
For many people, Bouffons has been very confusing. So many people this week have said, “I still don’t really get what ‘Bouffons’ is.”
Myself, I feel like I have a good idea of it. Not a full idea, but I’m getting an inkling. After all my courses are over in 2 weeks, I know I’ll be on the lookout for Bouffons “in the real world” to try to hone my instincts about the style.
Yesterday, the last day of this course, was aggravating.
It was the day when we did the presentations of our carefully prepared individual pieces.
I stayed on stage for just 30 seconds.
I came on stage slowly – learning from the feedback Gaulier gave to another act the day before.
I began singing and interleaving the text (a script in the voice of Lucifer) with the song.
At about 30 seconds, Philippe bonged the drum.
“It’s too sad.” he said.
A fair comment.
I had come on stage putting a sadder energy in my singing than I had intended – there’s a tricky balance to be found between slow movement, slowly delivered text, and keeping the “fire in your eyes” and pleasurable energy in your words.
No problem, I could work on that note immediately.
“Can I try again?” I asked, loudly and clearly – which I’ve found is the strategy if you want another try. Just ask. It often works. .
“No.” he said. And then added “If there’s time at the end, you can try again.”
There was not time at the end. In fact, the day ran over by an hour.
So a big Flop in my performance. But I wasn’t the only act to have only get a few seconds on stage. Some had been given multiple chances to try again, others none.
At the end, I asked him in the Q&A session: What is your criteria for giving some acts a second chance and others none?
The answer was characteristically vague. But it basically boiled down to “Sometimes I just feel like giving another chance and sometimes not.”
Not very helpful. But at least honest.
I have been considering how much Philippe is really providing a type of proxy for a real audience. In the real world, the audience has a particular set of aesthetic tastes. They know when they see something that they like, but they often can’t tell you why. If something isn’t working, they similarly can’t tell why.
Philippe is sort of playing the role of a fickle audience member with a drum, power, and brutal (but ambiguous) honesty.
Which is useful.
And his point about my delivery being too sad was entirely correct. I knew he was right immediately when he said it.
I just didn’t notice in the moment on stage.
Had I realised, I would have changed immediately to have more “fire” in my delivery, as I’d rehearsed.
Why was my delivery too sad?
Well, it’s that old “the stage is a magnifying glass” dynamic again.
As sadness is my go-to emotion right now in life, that’s the one that jumped out of me when the spotlight pointed on me.
I managed to counteract my tendency to speak too quietly on stage (by doing a real voice warm up for once, which I haven’t been doing here up until now). Now I need to counteract my natural tendency to slip into a slightly sad delivery.
And my emotions have been mad this week. The classes have required me to start accessing other emotions more dynamically than I ever do usually.
This means that I somewhat feel like I’m being shaken up in a washing machine.
My emotions are nearer to the surface than they ever usually are (my go-to emotions right now being: sadness, fear, anger, isolated, overwhelmed, loving, frustrated, bored, bitter, appreciated, loved, and inadequate… to name a few.)
These emotions are just right there below the surface, ready to explode out.
And they do explode. But my tendency is to internalize everything rather than sharing it or projecting it outwards. This internalization just means that I’m exploding inside a lot – seething and frothing with confusing and often contradictory emotions at the same time, and feeling the full force of those emotions inside myself.
Most of these emotions have not come out about the course topic but instead about the life around the course.
It’s all part of the process.
Or at least, part of “a” process… mine.
It’s hard to be in the middle of this all. I feel quite embarrassed and stupid a lot of the time. Though I don’t usually feel those things in the classes themselves. Instead, I attach those feelings to interactions with others on the social side of the experience here.
But I do see that it will help make me a better person.
How that applies to next week and Clowns, we’ll see.