Twenty-four hours in a bar with some of the finest musicians and performers I know (and I didn’t even know all of them until we rocked up to start playing…)
Lisa Jayne of Map 71: poet, musician, part local legend.
Sally Shakti Willow: writer, poet, performer (me).
Ecka Mordecai: Manchester-based cellist, sound-artist.
Diana Policarpo: sound-artist, percussionist, and visual artist.
Dolly Dollycore: musician, magician, and DJ.
Greta Pistaceci: musician, sound-artist.
Count Adriano Fettucini, a man of many theatrical talents…
Jules Arthur: violist, pianist, co-founder of Betabet (and, conveniently enough, co-proprieter of the venue).
Joshua Legallienne: acoustic guitarist, sound artist.
Megan Clifton of Bloom: multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and composer.
Agata Urbaniak: improv on the bass, photographer, image-artist
Kev Nickels: multi-talented musician, Hákarl.
From 5pm Saturday 29th July to 5pm Sunday 30th we all collaborated in a 24-hour endurance marathon of improvisation: music, sound work, poetry, spoken-word, physical performance
My contributions included: Reading fragments and extracts from Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha to the rhythm of the music; Reading some parts of the Unfinished Dream; Speaking/singing/chanting/shouting from various word-clusters I’ve been collecting as the atomic raw materials for future poetry pieces; Mantra; Exploring the sounds of breath; Physical performance
The challenges were many – both individual (sleep deprivation, nutrition, energy levels, creative output, endurance, perseverance…) and collective (collaboration, encouragement, support, challenging stagnation, sharing space, trusting and working together, relying on one another…)
Many of us chose to approach it as meditatively as possible, and I committed myself to making it a 24-hour meditation/yoga practice, as well as everything/anything else it might be. Perhaps I realised quite late that the main practice would be the performance, the collaboration, the constantly finding new directions with the improvisation. Probably because I’m much more experienced at yoga and meditation than I am at improv. This was my first ever improv session.
Given that I’ve been working nutritionally to build myself back up from debilitating chronic fatigue over the last three years, the physical and mental challenge of exhaustion was an aspect I was particularly keen to prepare for. So I was as conscious as possible about what I would be eating and drinking and when, to give me the best possible nutrition and energy levels.
During the course of the 24 hours, the influence of the moon moved from Libra (finding pleasure in the other, responsive, reflective, joys in the pleasure of sharing and co-operating, seeking out company for dialogue and exchange) to Scorpio (exploring the emotional depths, powerful, determined, courageous, traveling through the emotional undercurrents and into the inner worlds). My open menstrual channels seemed to make me particularly receptive to this shift. Naturally inclined towards introspection, and practising regular pranayama breathing practices that can shift the focus inward even more, my biggest challenge rose up to face me at hour 22 when I lost all confidence and became intensely vulnerable. Thanks to the enormous love and support I received, I was finally able to rejoin the group for the last 20 minutes of collective sound, fury and relief.
Artistically, meditatively, energetically, collaboratively this is one of the most awesome things I have done and it’s given me an appetite for more. More collaboration, more performance, more improv, more development and innovation in my work, more openness to the inputs of others.
Thanks to Lisa Jayne and Kev for organising this and inviting me to take part; thanks everyone who was involved and made it what it was.
Sample videos from Agata:
Images by Agata Urbaniak