Sally Doughty on Hourglass - her performance in response to Backlit Gallery's Einstein on the Beach Exhibition, Saturday 9 May

Sally Doughty on Hourglass - her performance in response to Backlit Gallery's Einstein on the Beach Exhibition, Saturday 9 May

Inspired by the original score created by choreographer Lucinda Childs for Einstein on the Beach (1976) and Einstein on the Beach exhibition artefacts, Dance4 has invited Dance Artist Sally Doughty to make a response within the gallery spaces.

Click here to book tickets for the 1pm performance of Hourglass and here for the 3pm performance.

Click here to book tickets for the 4pm talk with Sally and Paul Russ.  The performances of Hourglass and the talk are FREE but booking is essential.

Robert Wilson, LUCINDA CHILDS, Dancer and Choreographer, 2005, Music by Peter Cerone, Voice by Lucinda Childs, Courtesy of RW Work, Ltd. and Dissident Industries, NY

Sally Doughty on Hourglass – A response to the Einstein on the Beach Exhibition

S: Hourglass is a response to the exhibition and specifically a section from the original opera score by Lucinda Childs entitled Knee Play Three. The score itself looks like a sort of cross-stitch tapestry. Lucinda (Childs) said that I could respond to that specifically, which is great to have her permission. So really it’s a response to that score and the artefacts in the space generally and the space itself to an extent.

A: How are you planning on responding to the exhibition?

S: My plan currently is to spend time in the space because I have all these great ideas and I just need to be here to see if they work.  Right now I want to develop a score for myself in response to the artefacts, the exhibition and Lucinda’s score because the duration of Hourglass is an hour, I feel like I need to have some kind of structure and some idea as to what it is I’m going to do at particular times.

I’ve worked with scores in the past so it feels that a good way forward for me would be to begin to write or draft my own performance score for the hour in response to the exhibition.  So there are the artefacts in the space from which I’m going to make a score that I then use to inform my performance as a kind of structure and then the plan I have, that I need to try, is to whilst performing that score, make a score of the performance that I’m doing.   The idea being, that I have some fabric, some calico or some paper on me that I scribe and document what I’m doing throughout the hour.  So there’s the score that informs the performance and there’s the score of the performance that I’m thinking will then be used to inform the second (3pm) performance, so it’s an on-going series of creating and developing scores.

A: So are both performances going to be improvisations?

S: Yes, they will be, absolutely.  I’m not going to set any material but I’m thinking that the score that I will make to inform Hourglass allows me to improvise around particular ideas and themes.  I may have bits of material and ideas about what the movements might be but I’m not going to set anything in particular.  I’m going to respond in that moment.

A: And that’s similar to how Philip Glass worked when composing the original Einstein on the Beach opera isn’t it, reacting to theatrical director Robert Wilson’s sketches? - Glass on the collaborative process: "I put [Wilson’s notebook of sketches] on the piano and composed each section like a portrait of the drawing before me. The score was begun in the spring of 1975 and completed by the following November, and those drawings were before me all the time."
Shyer, Laurence (1989). Robert Wilson and His Collaborators. Theatre Communications Group. p. 220.

S: Yes it is, and Lucinda works a lot with improvisation in her scores as well.  Usually to create set choreography but scores are used in all sorts of improvisational modes. 

A: It’s great that you have a thorough linkage between how Philip Glass composed the Einstein on the Beach opera and Lucinda Childs composed her score.

S: Yes, so there’s this whole idea of using the score to inform a performance but also to document a performance, which is something that I’m interested in, in my work.  Therefore it just seems really fitting to bring that idea into Hourglass because it’s so prevalent in the work.

So that’s the plan!  And at the end of each performance, I would take the score off and I would hang it out in the exhibition entrance as an exhibit from the performance.  And I’m also toying with the idea of having an artist sketch as I perform so there’s a document of the space that almost the artist is making scores of where I go and what I do in the space but I’ve yet to test out the practicalities of this.

Watch this 1984 documentary on the making of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's 'Einstein on the Beach'.

See video