On Saturday we went to see David Hockney’s installation “Bigger and Closer” at the new Lightroom Venue in Kings Cross, London. If you knew nothing about him you could visit this 4-sided space of huge projections and come out an hour later understanding why he is Britain’s most famous living artist. It is sometimes breath-taking and often emotional, dripping with colour and light and constant creativity. He is someone with an eye that can really see what is there.
One of his phrases caught my eye. “Collaboration is Compromise.” To work at a really high level in anything takes a huge amount of effort – certainly singlemindedness. But it made me think how painters like writers, poets and composers work largely alone.
In the performing arts you have your own skills to learn but you are also dependent on each other to bring it to life. Well yes you could perform a one person show but you’d still need all those other technical people to make it happen on the night and I include the people who take your ticket and point you to your seat.
We’re currently preparing a show with 30 different choreographers and directors in an arena with 8 sometimes 9 different places to perform – all telling the same story at the same time. You have to collaborate and that means accommodating other people. I think of these big shows as experiments in working together. It sounds a bit dull but it’s fascinating when people have an idea and then see hundreds of people coming together to make it work.
This one is about the problems of the modern world so it’s partly interesting because we are only going to solve those problems by working together and perhaps compromising.
People who make theatre know the thrill when ideas bear fruit. I imagine it’s the same excitement that David Hockney gets when he gets a picture right. One day in rehearsals something happens and out of nowhere it feels like a light has been switched on, “Hey this is working!” And the funny thing is that everyone feels it together. It’s magical!
That’s what we work for and sometimes it takes weeks and sometimes not until the day of the performance. I say it’s magical because when you find a moment that works you can spread it into every other moment. And it brings a new excitement to the performers’ eyes. That’s what we live for in the work.