The first half of our summer physical theatre intensive is complete. Our physical theatre students participated in one of two intensives going on these two weeks: Clown and Hidden Dimensions. Below we hear from Hidden Dimensions instructors, Sam McGehee and Sašo Vollmaier. In this intensive the students work with voice and movement to create and explore with each other.
Sam McGehee, originally from Boston, grew up in Tuscany where from a young age he was engaged in music, circus arts, street performing and physical theatre. Sam was awarded his bachelors degree in music and philosophy from Sarah Lawrence College in NYC in conjunction with BHU in Varanasi India. He also attended the MFA program at the ADA. Sam’s interdisciplinary approach has brought him to collaborate with a variety of projects and people, including painters, poets, musicians, dancers, actors, folk research and pedagogy. Sam has performed in Italy, Germany, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and India; he has also led workshops in many of these places. Sam was an original member of the experimental rock band Sycamore Age (It) with whom he toured for over four years. Now he lives in the south Bohemia (CZ) as member of physical theatre company Divadlo Continuo. Sam is interested in poetry, composed theatre, experimental music and movement.
Sašo Vollmaier is a pianist, composer, performer and teacher. He graduated from the Academy of Music in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in 2008 – professor of piano. In 2005 he met PanTheatre (France). He joined the Slovenian avant-garde music group Laibach in 2007 – 2013 as a keyboard player. In 2013 he moved to France where he meets Viviane Gay, an actress with whom he started developing his presence on the stage as a performer trough his voice, movement and music. The voice work brought him to Malérargues (France) again where he started to give classes, collaborating with other voice teachers and giving the concerts and performances. In the same year he begins to direct the performance called “Generation”. This project allows him to meet the Roy Hart Theatre in terms of the power of the presence, fragility, expression, authenticity, curiosity…
Vollmaier teaches musical aspects, encourages the students to invent their own language, working on presence, voice and movement. In 2014 he started to collaborate with Susanne Weins – performance artist, giving the voice/movement workshops in Düsseldorf and creating their own theatre productions (Bewegte Oktaven, Fragile Breath, Melancholia,…) most of them directed by Sabine Seume. He works as a voice teacher mainly in France, Germany, Italy and Brazil.
“Electric Unicorn” is the name of electro-acoustic project created by three completely different personalities (I. Leitinger, L. Jamnik, S. Vollmaier) in 2013 with different musical backgrounds.
Vollmaier’s accomplishments include theatre and cartoon scores, choral arrangements, marching orchestras, big bands, playing as a studio musician (Laibach, Bratko Bibič, Silence, Funtango, radio/TV broadcastings,…)
What does “Hidden Dimensions” mean for you?
SAM: That’s a good question. Well I think in this case hidden dimensions is what it sounds like. So it’s something or it’s some aspect which we should find. We like to create a problem for ourselves in order to activate the work and in this case we wouldn’t know beforehand what this dimension is because it’s hidden also to us. So i think we should along with the students search for this.
SAŠO. For me it means something which is there. It’s there and we just need to bring it out and to find it.
Is there a focal point of your intensive or a main concept that you hope the students take away?
SAŠO: Yes, as you know, we focus…we are looking for the same thing but through different expressions or two different tools. I will just speak in my direction which is music and voice, I lost it…
SAM: Before we know what it is it’s hard to name it, but yeah as Saso said, through a musical approach and through the voice and through movement, we try to capture something, which one of the students yesterday defined as “something fresh” or another defined it as “a story”. I think it’s that. It’s when we can unearth something which is very loosely defined as something fresh or something organic. The problem is that this can take many different forms. It’s something unformed until it appears, and when it appears it’s some combination of movement and voice.
SAŠO: As soon as it comes or something happens we go there. It’s for us an interesting journey to find out those things and also to define our work in a way.
What is something that has struck you in your work with the students so far?
SAM: I was surprised that it’s quite a good group, that as a group they managed to create a good synergy and good working environment. The first week we went many places, we went very fast and very strong all together. I think this is because, not exactly because of each personality but the mix between those personalities that came. It’s always interesting the cultural clash or the cultural smash, between being in italy, american culture, polish culture, and Slovenian.
SAŠO: My question is If I go into myself what can I give from this point or from where I feel comfortable. Of course it’s a different culture, which I should be used to, but one important thing for me is also the age. How old they are. They are in this age where the information passes to them very quickly. You give some input and then they go with it and then ask for something new. I’m not so used to this, I need to switch on a certain button which makes me feel young or makes me think young.
So you have both not only taught at the ADA during the semester programs, but you have taught together during our semester program. How is teaching during the summer intensive different or similar? How is it for you to co-teach this intensive?
SAŠO: I think we are developing our intuition, which was always hidden. We work very intuitively together and this is something new for me in terms of working together. In terms of the summer program and the intensive we’ve proposed there is a continuation every day so we are in it all the time. I could not imagine how we would keep this intensity if we were only once or twice a week like during the semester. So now we are all in this creative mess of information and I think the students as well as Sam and I will recognize the work we did weeks after it is finished.
SAM: As you said, we have already touched upon this kind of work in the semester programs and we finally get to go a little longer and deeper and what has been particular for me since we have these two different approaches that normally it would be a kind of bipolarity, shifting between our approaches from one to the other, and instead as we go through these two weeks these two approaches come closer and closer and they become very explosive in the meeting of each other and this also gives us a chance to go into each other’s expertise or into each other’s field naturally. Yesterday we kind of switched roles. Both of these essences which meet transformed, somehow we did a crossover and we came to a very organic place, which is actually what we ask the students to do, and I always think it’s not right to ask the students to do something that you could not also do.
SAŠO: For me teaching in a couple is so good. I learn a lot from Sam and some things in my work are getting much clearer. Body as composition from my side which is like I said music and voice, I look differently at the body now.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
SAM: I would actually reveal in this moment the ultimate hidden dimension. It’s the one dimension that we knew, that wasn’t hidden, but that we kept hidden. Maybe one of the reasons that we get along, that we can work in this intuitive way is because we share a same taste. The word we’ve been working with is zaum, which is a russian invented word, meaning trans-rational or beyond mind. “aum” is like mind and “za” is a prefix of trans/beyond/through. So we work with some kind of displacement of logic and finding how that displacement expresses itself into movement and the sound and the combination of both.
SAŠO: So we are inventing a new language, a new way to understand what we are saying.
SAM: A new wording.