LAKE IVAN PERFORMANCE GROUP
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Since 1982, Lake Ivan Performance Group has presented their poetic montages
of words, music, and images in performance venues throughout New York, such
as Here, Symphony Space, Theater for the New City, PS 122, Dixon Place, and
many others. Now, they are making their work more widely available through a
series of innovative videos, which combine meticulously crafted
competer-generated imagery with improvised text and music. The videos are
shown on Public Access television, and will be screened at a variety of
public venues, including the Dahlonega International Film Festival and the
Puget Sound Cinema Society.
In these wholly improvised pieces, performer/director David Finkelstein and
performers James Martin and Agnes de Garron take the viewer on a journey
into an inner landscape of surprising and poetic juxtapositions of words and
images. The results are both ironically humorous and emotionally resonant.
Multiple layers of overlaid imagery and text help the viewer to make sense
of the complex sound track, which consists of two simultaneous monologues
plus music, by bringing out the emotional and musical threads which run
through the piece, while highlighting key phrases of text.
Micro-Film wrote that "Lake Ivan Exists #21" is "a tight example of how to
make a successful experimental video." The Village Voice wrote that Lake
Ivan's performance "derived a powerful emotional current from de Garron's
wounded, clownlike persona," while Theatre Journal called Finkelstein's
direction "revelatory," and de Garron's performance "riveting."
Some excerpts from an interview by Jonathan W. Hickman on the einsiders.com
DAVID FINKELSTEIN: My intention is not to create a painful experience, to
make people angry, or to confuse people. Actually, my video is meant to be
an enjoyable, entertaining and pleasurable experience. As I said earlier,
if a viewer watches my video expecting a story, consistent characters, a
clear concept or any kind of intellectual construct, they WILL experience
pain, irritation and anger, because their desire will be continually
frustrated. The video HAS no consistent themes, concepts, or storyline. That
is because the video is designed to encourage people to learn how to watch
it in a different way; to enjoy the flow of rhythm, emotions, and dynamics,
rather than ideas. To enjoy it the same way you enjoy music (despite the use
of language). To encourage the viewer to be inside of their feelings rather
than inside a concept. Viewed this way, the video, I believe, is very
rewarding, entertaining and enjoyable, full of interesting things to look
at, interesting music to listen to, interesting thoughts to think about, and
powerful emotions to identify with and by moved by. Fortunately, quite a few
people who have seen the video agree with me. My favorite films and
theater pieces have always been ones which teach me a new way of seeing.
(Examples of film directors would be Hans Jurgen Syberberg, Mathew Barney,
Ulrike Ottinger. Examples of theater directors would be Elizabeth LeCompte
or Robert Ashley.) Very often, when I see these works, for the first half or
so of the piece, the experience really is bit painful or frustrating,
because I have not yet learned how to watch it. But when I finally catch on
and learn how the film or play is meant to be watched, it becomes
exhilarating, not only because of its inherent beauty, but because my own
perceptual apparatus has been opened up and enlarged. I am trying to do
something like that with my work.
Where can your approaches find a place in a more narrative production?
That's something I'd like to explore in the future. One of my long term
projects is to make a film version of Shelley's PROMETHEUS UNBOUND.
Although it would not be a conventional film in any sense, it does have a
storyline of sorts and a written text.
Improvisation is so much more than just making things up. Any secrets you
can share that are at the heart of your improvisational acting technique?
Yes. The focus for an improvising performer is not on what he is trying to
communicate to the audience, but on what he is feeling. His feelings are the
source of his performance. But these feelings must be experienced as
physical sensations. If the actor feels it in his body, the audience will be
able to see it. If he feels it in his voice, the audience will be able to
hear it. That's just one example. Improvisation technique is a subject
I'm obsessed with, so I could go on and on about it for days at a time.
We hear a lot about "classically trained actors," are your acting approaches
part of a classical regimen?
Unfortunately, no. The kind of training that most people receive in acting
school does not prepare them at all to do the kind of work I do. I say
'unfortunately' because it means that I have to train anyone who works with
me from scratch. They have to work incredibly hard for at least a year
before their work is anywhere near good enough to present in public.
Lake Ivan Exists. episode #21: The Bathroom (2001) 29 minutes, video
Lake Ivan Exists. episode #37: Starfield (2001) 29 minutes, video
Lake Ivan Exists. episode #47: Mardi Gras (2002) 29 minutes, video
Lake Ivan Exists. episode #30: The Artificial (2002) 29 minutes video
Saltwater by B-Blush
Right to Surrender and The Sickness of Beauty by Yolanda and the Plastic Family
Honoring the Ancestors by Steve Sandberg, featured at the Outmusic Awards ceremony, and on the PBS program "Under the Pink Carpet."
Lake Ivan videos are available directly from the artist
as well as from
artists venues images