I am a director, maker and performer. I have dedicated my life to my work as an on going process rather than settle into one specific methodology or frame. I am working in the context of the time I am living in day to day. My work is the voice for how I feel as a feminist and an artist with an edge to move things along rather than look behind.
I have been conducting a microscopic study about the role improvisation plays in real time composition integrating music, movement, object and writing since the mid 1980’s. My performances are about the experience of being there, you are participating in the event and thus, in a sense, the work”. My practice is a reflection of what I believe art in the theatre can only be; live.
I have developed a manifesto in how I conduct research within a rehearsal processes towards performances based on my background working with live musicians beginning in the mid 70’s and my obsession to write and then voice text in a mix with my musical background. Over the past 15 years, I have integrated my curiosity for developmental brain studies as a part of how perform movement and how I work with live public. Public, in my performances, are witnesses and the main provider for how the piece is perceived.
My performances are a practice of presence in a sound driven space with a flirtation to engage public so hopefully they remember what they have seen, heard and felt long after the live performance has died. The combination of moving, seeing, hearing, feeling and deliberately volunteering to expose myself in front of an audience alters my perception of time, space and emotions. What I do for a living is an induced neurone madness.
What is important about Abandon Human is that the two performer/writers, Katie Duck and Sharon Smith, are in their mid-60’s and mid-40’s. They have worked and played together for twenty years. They are female. They are ‘unruly women’ (behaving inappropriately especially for their age and stature). They are mothers. Katie and Sharon have daughters. It’s a woman thing. They have shared a friendship that has grown into family feelings.
The work explodes all that, all those… feelings… all over the stage, that having a child is a most vivid, unbearable emotion… Irretrievable loss. You cannot put them back in, once they have torn themselves from your belly via vagina or scalpel, they set in motion a certain grief… a slow, life-long, death-looming loss. They leave you and leave you and leave you. And that is your job. To help them do just that. The love is so strong that you can deal with their shit, their piss, their selfishness and their hatred… of you.
Katie and Sharon laugh at themselves, like witches, like monsters. The performance is physical, the performers move, shout, sing and tell stories built from lives lived, fictionalized by survival.
The title was a combination of ‘abandon ship’ and some sort of ‘you can’t run away from yourself’ reality check. Somehow, ‘being human’ is what we are stuck with. Abandon human is like a punk band. It feels like a gig.
It is structured by a pre-recorded sound score of chaos and songs, songs written by women, songs written by women, for men. The soundtrack contains the action, haunted by female song writers who we love shamelessly and who we want to be in the room with us. There are others, but of course there is not enough space or time in one room (however grand) to include all the awesome women who wrote songs that speak through us and to us, in the work… in the life.
The performers in Abandon Human try to ‘get off, shake off, escape’ the shabby constructs that define them, position and police them. Observe them, like one might watch animals in the zoo, artefacts/relics in a museum. They are performing for you, at you, with you, affected by you. Our raw materials are played loose in the performance setting without a lid on how it will evolve performance to performance.
a solo with an invitation for collaboration
Created in 2014
sound track, film, text and score by Katie Duck
The performance contains images that provide a theatrical theme by way of a black dress, a chair, three wigs, texts, movement and sound. My text is non narrative based on four titles; The Institutionalization of Everything, Love, The Anatomy of the Vagina, Death. The sound track is a playground I change for reach performance. It contains sonic toys that create a tension alongside my nerdy research into pop music that I do for each culture that I visit. The film provides a base for a light designed that I create once I am in the theatre space where we play.
The text is placed in and around her use of body, space, sound and objects that she discovers in each location. I have designed a film that plays behind the performance and re make a sound track (playground) for each event according to songs or sounds the collaborating artists wishes to hand me, according to the culture where I am playing and according to the space where it is played.
I use CAGE as a score that I can share with artists where I travel, offering a platform to voice their artistic, cultural and personal expression. My ambition is to play CAGE in as many cultures as possible so that the material I have written in the score CAGE can continually develop and be played in real time for live time audiences. My relationship to public’s with CAGE is that they notice that I am a guest in their culture and that the real time performance element of the work places them as witnesses rather than passive aggressive viewers.
The title Cage refers to the composer John Cage whose scores, among other things, introduced musicians to choice. This piece uses choice in how the performers form a relationship to the public, in how the guest artist is integrated into the score and how a % of the piece is improvised.
The title CAGE also refers to how the institutionalization of absolutely everything, the loss of love, the need to face the anatomic technology perfection of what the Vagina actually is and the use of death as tactic for fear has suppressed our emotions and feelings forcing us all to live in a CAGE.
We view distressing events daily and are able to tuck this in a pocket of our consciousness until eventually panic attach grips our spirits and anything social seems beyond reason. The human condition to feel what we see and hear is numbed, boxed away in the normal. The new normal is violence. The new normal leaves little space for anyone to feel the violence.
Language, politics, money freezes society in a delusional state of mind. The continual alienation of woman as an integrate role in our societies (and I do not mean joining the boys club or playing along with the rituals of male bonding) suppresses men and woman alike. CAGE is played by one nomadic woman and a artist or artists from the culture where it is played. It is not played only by women artists. It has been played by several different gender combinations of artists. CAGE offers no solutions by way equal rights using sports metaphors, winners or looser. Cage is about – total take over.
CAGE has been played in Italy, the USA, Hong Kong, Spain, Holland, Slovenia, Argentina, Canada, France and Mexico as a solo, as a duet and in some cases as a group piece with live musicians.
This solo can be performed alone by Katie Duck or as a score open for collaborations with performance artists, dancers, musicians and actresses where ever Katie is asked to tour.
GROUP WORK (on-going)
In her group work, Katie uses a theme as the spine for her scores and transforms the theatre with her lighting and music design. Because her work is non narrative and that the performers choices are what move the piece live time, the bulk of her process is a workshop. She prepares the performers to radically make choices in confrontation with live public and then applies the score, music/sound and light in the finale days. She creates a situation where everyone is in deep process of the creation with an aim to insure that the event is readable for public’s and yet leave each of the performers with a unique experience that they can use in what ever way is useful for their creative processes
Katie also leads group work events where the participants are placed in a situation to create their own work. In these processes the participants can collaborate with musicians, film, text, sound and lighting of their own choice. Katie workshops with the participants, does tutorial advising sessions with groups about their creation process towards performance and then leads the situation towards an event much like the “Freakatoni Witchy Weekends” (Amsterdam improvisation summer course). Participants are encouraged to provide short pieces that are scores set in live time and to centre on the collaborative in their rehearsals. In these group works, Katie uses her background collaborating with musicians, actors, dancers and singers.
Required for commissions outside Holland:
- Air travel round trip
- Per diems