La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions: Nancy Black

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

6 Questions: Nancy Black

Director Nancy Black took time out of busy rehearsals of Blind to answer 6 Questions about this unique puppet performance coming to the La MaMa Puppet Festival: 

1) Do you have a favorite puppet in your performance?
No.....That’s like asking if you have a favorite child!  They’re all so unique – the puppets I mean.  Each came into being over a long slow creative process. We struggled with them, to find out who they were, what they expressed.  They weren’t always easy, though the Oracle gave us a lot of fun.  She was a big surprise.  Francis and Blanche were difficult at times. We loved and hated them.  Eventually they dictated who they were.  All three come from deep within ourselves.  They express so much of humanity – the dark and the light. 

2) What is the importance of sight in 'Blind'?
Sight in Blind is a state of mind, a way of being.  To see is to open oneself to what is around you, and engage with it without expectation.  Suffering an intolerable disease, his body distorted, visually and spiritually blind, Duda’s character is at war with himself. He kills off his innocence. He seeks answers blindly from anyone who will promise a cure. He “sees” only when he stops looking; when he accepts.  

3) How is the experience working with artists across cultures?
First of all, few experiences can be as enriching. You exchange stories, skills, learn about new cultures, share approaches. There’s a challenge in that also - you will encounter different processes, some different expectations, and of course those must be negotiated – but in my experience, once you’re on the floor – the differences float away.  You’re making a work.  sparking off each other’s ideas, arguing, searching, making offers, trying things out.  Ultimately, if the process is collaborative, you’re all in it together, making art.

4) What can the audience expect to discover watching 'Blind'?
A sense of wonder at the power of Duda’s puppets.  Humour as well as darkness in his character’s journey. Recognition.  A challenge to confront one’s own feelings of discomfort when encountering people with physical and/or mental disabilities. A challenge to engage, and accept what you discover.

5) What role does the music play in this performance?
The music helps build each puppet’s world.  The Oracle’s music references the Yoruba Brazilian sub-culture and shamanistic ritual.  Blanche is in nature.  Francis exists in an emotional turmoil – driven by anger and rage. Alfie at the end is in today. Wilco Alkema’s challenge was to find modes and transitions that allowed those worlds to emerge and transform.

6) What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
La Mama has been such a force in theatre.  Global really. A driving passionate advocate for new work, emerging artists, and the importance of culture.  It’s an honour to play there. Here in Melbourne, our own La Mama, founded in the ‘60s by admirers of Ellen Stewart, has had a huge impact on Australia’s culture. I have made many works there – and so have most artists working in theatre. In presenting Blind at NY’s La Mama we are proudly joining the company of thousands whose careers have been nurtured there, and who in turn – with their courage and artistry - have so enriched the culture of NY and the wider world.  I hope we bring something unique and wonderful to weave into that fabulous tapestry. 


La MaMa presents 
Part of the La MaMa Puppet Festival 

Ellen Stewart Theatre | 66 East 4th Street (2nd Floor)

Thursday to Friday at 7PM; Saturday at 8:30PM; Sunday at 3PM
$25 Tickets; $20 Student/Senior Tickets [+$1 Facility Fee]

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