Gravity and Energy is a night of two performances. The first is a dialogue by director Juha-Pekka Hotinen and actress Minttu Mustakallio, the second a one-man opera by vocal artist Heikki Laitinen. Director Juha-Pekka Hotinen tells about the background to the performances and his working methods.
How is Gravity and Energy related to experimental theatre?
"Experimental" can sometimes refer to something that actually hinders spontaneity. The core of performing arts lies in their being ephemeral, and if the focus is set on pre-planning in order to guarantee "experimentalism" or organising experiments or the like, it is the performance that becomes the first victim. In my opinion, the only correct way to combine theory and practice in the performing arts is to create theory as you go along. The grounds of the performance, its raison d'être, must be within the performance itself and its inherent transience.
Is the performance based on something concrete?
One point of departure is the role of the unknown in art. I don't mean religion, rather everything that cannot be reduced to words. In my opinion, the very idea of art lies in what cannot be reduced to words, what always remains on an intuitive, sub- or supraconscious level. I have tried not to do too much pre-planning: the concept is to allow the performance to seize the moment and let us see what happens.
Are the performances based on improvisation?
I'm not taking the performances to the level of happenings so that each night would be totally different. Improvisation is merely a tool for practising. The performances will probably bring to mind the average contemporary drama. The performances will start from the same situation every night, with some recurring lines.
What are the initial situations like?
In the first performance, there are two people on stage, a man and a woman. They could be a teacher and a student, for example. The initial situation must be simple and concrete, but the two characters must not fix the situation permanently: the situations change in a moment. Is it a father and daughter, boss and employee, husband and wife instead? In the second performance, the one-man opera, we have perhaps three central characters on stage. Who is the most important, or are they all one? Who is that one? A bird man, a murderer, a rally driver who has lost his way? An ageing, frightened man singing his way to - where?
What is the significance of the script?
The text is an element among other elements. Words are important, they can be used for bluff and manipulation. Words are important, but unreliable, and because of that they can also take us to the unknown. If we say what first comes to mind, we can make people question their first interpretation.
What kind of opera music is involved in the second performance?
There is neither band nor instruments: all sounds originate from the human voice treated by technology - the vocals may, for example, be made to circulate around the room and create a dialogue with themselves. As this is an opera, the ambition to create dialogue with the genre itself is obvious.
What is there for the viewer?
It is hard to answer that question without sounding pompous, but we do think we are doing the audience a favour. It sounds so 1980s to put it this way: that we allow the viewer to reach the unknown, as if we were doing some kind of profoundly pretentious artsy-fartsy stuff which does not even aim to reach the audience. This is not at all what we want. But if you want to see something that is simultaneously perfectly simple and perfectly beyond, I think we've got it.