First of all, here are some behind the scenes photos of how the stage was set up: 

10-min filmed performance featuring the Isadora output and the full stage in the bottom corner. Also, below is a storyboard of film stills for you to get a sense of the performance’s progression if you are unable to watch the whole piece. 

This project was valuable because not only did I get the chance to learn a new software, but it also taught me how to transcend the limitations of live performance. Merging film and theatre as a medium allowed for a lot more experimentation of my own process creating set & spatial design. It was also a vital performance-making adaption to social-distancing, so I really felt that I was allowing myself to explore the future of performance.

I think the most important part of the process for me was being part of a team made up of 3 designers. We did not have a specialised writer, director, or producer so it really challenged us to use design as the visual dramaturgy. It also enlightened my process to consider dramaturgy a lot more in how narratives are structured especially. It’s not just about what visually flows, so I learned to balance decision-making based on visual design vs narrative. If I had the chance to revisit this piece, I would have liked to explore the dialogue a bit more. Isis picked an excerpt from the SCUM Manifesto, but given another chance I think it would benefit the thematic exploration to interpret our own version. I would have also incorporated more interactions with other characters especially in Valerie’s dream. Perhaps pulling from other people within her life at the time or in her past. That said though, this was not meant to be a biographical performance.

Lastly, this project allowed me to extract bits of my own experience as a female artist in a male-dominated industry. I enjoyed the process of interpreting Valerie Solanas’ lived experience, but in hindsight, a lot of the commentary I suggested was based off of my own experiences. I think this project has taught me how to creatively and visually evoke my socio-political perspectives and use the performance as a vessel for that commentary. In other words, show not tell. 

© Jida Akil 2024