Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Project #2 "Train/Niart" aka Finally Getting to Work With QUEEN Amanda


the train as it came at us

Okay, so story time. Once upon a time, a small (not really) asian gay prince from California was whisked off to a magical liberal arts castle in the Midwest where he was inducted into a cult. During his induction, he met a fair knight from Wisconsin who had proven herself in comedy and a regal Queen from the provinces of Oregon.

Okay, this story is not going anywhere and I'm having the hardest time actually bringing it to where I want to be; so I'm going to TL;DR it. Amanda and I met last year in our First Year Seminar. We're both Theatre people and we lived in the same building and we had the same advisor. And we had friends named Angie and Anna. Together we were Amanda, Benjamin, Anna, and Angie: ABAA. (A names can be rearranged at will.) However, Angie transferred out of Cornell and Anna was busy with her comedy improv group. Eventually we all fell apart. I haven't really gotten to work with or hang out with Amanda this past school year. When Amanda texted me and was like "Do you want to work together on the next project. I have an idea." My first response was "Yes." Actually it was "YES. PLEASE THANK YOU." Well, actually my first response was unintelligible squealing and I grabbed the person next to me and squeezed their arm really hard. Anna wasn't very pleased. And then I very calmly texted back, "Yes." Amanda had an idea and I was SUPER EXCITED TO WORK WITH HER BECAUSE THIS WAS GODDAMN AMANDA BENTZ. Also she wanted to do something with trains and let's be real. Trainz r kool yo.

Sorry to go super hip on ya'll, what I said was "trains are cool, my dear friends and homies."

Amanda wanted to go out to the train bridge and record the train passing under us. On Sunday was my 10/12 rehearsal for Those That Fall; which is a fancy way of saying we rehearse the show for 12 hours with a brief 2 hour break for dinner. Thankfully rehearsal ended early, so Amanda and i were able to meet around 10. At 10 we went down to the train bridge and as we walked up to the bridge, the far off sounds of the train began to sound. Amanda hurriedly began to sprint to the bridge shouting at me to "SHH SHH SHH!" As she set up the recorder I lay on the bridge and stared up at the stairs listening to the frogs and night critters. Amanda lay next to me and we allowed the train to pass under us and feel the vibration of the train. That done, Amanda and i discussed our plan. On the walk to the bridge we had experienced and tossed out ideas for performance; and from these we were able to solidify our idea. We were going to play this sound forwards and in reverse at the same time while being present for each other.

the train as it left us

Amanda wrote our score and I played with the train audio to play it in reverse.

our score

I was pleased with how our performance came together; I liked how the sounds layered. To make the reversal stand out more, playing the sounds separately would bump up and give the audience a chance to really hear and listen to the differences in the train sounds. The light for me really replicated the way that the light of the train when it came at us.

The signs were a last minute decision. I felt like having a sign that said TRAIN and another that spelled it backwards, NIART; would be vaguely anti-art and super literal. I texted Amanda and she agreed that it was anti-art. They were not the focus for me; and i felt as though they could be an additional layer after--like residue. A part of the piece that may be missed in the performance and could be added into the memory of the performance as carried by the viewer.

very light, much drama

For further performance, I'd like to put the artists in real chairs, not stools and I would like the placards to be around our necks and a little more elaborate. I also think that the artists should not come back after the performance. If possible, the audience should never see them together again. (Wow. I just realized I totally am being over dramatic about our friendship drifting apart. lol. This blog lives up to its title "My Twenty-Something Angst.")



  1. Good self-reflection about the performance. The photos are very good too! And your story. Yes, the story! Ok, I wonder.... what do you want your audience to think about or to feel? The reason I wonder about this is because the actual performance/event took place on the bridge with just the two of you and the work you did in the classroom is different naturally == so allowing it to be a different animal -- what do you want your audience to experience? do you need the word train? just thinking....

  2. I thought the performance was very intriguing. The sound of two trains (I had no idea it was the same train reversed) was very calming which was i felt was further expressed with the demeanor you and Amanda held the entire time. The way you two sat so still and starring intensely into each others eyes felt like although now words were being exchanged the two of you were having this deep conversation. I loved the aspect of strangers on a train, some of the deeper conversations I have had has been with strangers in those in-between places ( trains, airplanes, shared cabs, girls bathroom( the line too) hallways etc. ) So I defiantly understood ( to an extent) what the performance was getting at as it resonated with me. I will say that although I understood the signs, I did get up during your performance to read them and did not make the connection with the second train sound. But I think that that's okay as well as it kept all of us wondering and waiting for an explanation during the show, keeping our attention right on the two of you.

    I loved your story of how this all came together ans sort of wished you had it recorded to be played before, during or after your performance. I think it defiantly would have added another layer and made it... complete... or more wholesome? IDk.

    Your self reflection was also nice, and a good contrast between you and you as a Preforming Artist. Really shows your discipline to do such a calm and semi-quite performance.

    Good Job cant wait for more!