TBI Q&A: Eve Gordon
Who do you turn to when you need a ladder walker, an adagio couple, contortionist and chair balancer for an opera? The Dust Palace director Eve Gordon tells us about being the circus go-to girl for the NBR NZ Opera’s The Bartered Bride.
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During what hours of the day do you feel most inspired?
Whenever I've got time to day dream! I find that moments sitting in the car or at lunch or while dressing or... in any tiny little moment I have my mind will be racing around in the clouds making stuff up... Dusk is when things are most magical for me... and magic is what creativity is all about!!
How would a good friend describe your aesthetic or style?
Unique, alternative, athletic and atm a bit punky.... on TV I always get cast as gay... I think it's my circus muscles!
What aspect of your creative practice gives you the biggest thrill?
Creating moments of magic where the audience goes WOW... how is that possible!!! Or Oh my goodness how can they DO that?!! That's why I created The Dust Palace, to make theatre shows that would make me tingle.
How does your environment affect your work?
I like to practise creating/devising anywhere at any time, it's good for the creative juices... and yes the environment always informs the product... as do the people, especially with such physically intimate work!... and I'm always inventing new aerial apparatus... some of them work wonders... others don't...
Do you like to look at the big picture or focus on the details?
The details make up the big picture... but even most of the details I dream up ideally are life sized and flying ten meters in the air!! But seriously... discovering a creative relationship with co-director Mike Edward was amazing... I always think in images and concepts and sometimes these don't necessarily come out structured for an audience... Mike has that skill!
What's your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in the creative industries?
Keep creating, don't get stuck in your good ideas!! (ok... that's not a business tip... that's more an ethos I want everyone to adopt... I firmly believe if we all keep moving forward, experimenting and looking outside ourselves at the work of others in the world we'll collectively get better!!) ok... actual business tip... always, always do your best!
Which of your projects to date has given you the most satisfaction?
Recently we finished a tour of Cirque Non Sequitur... The inception of that show was the most unconventional to date... We created the show for SPLORE festival this year which meant we could be as out-there and left-field as we wanted! It was a super fun show... then we got booked for The Right Royal Cabaret Festival in Taranaki and had to re-develop the show for an indoor festival audience... I think the audience was slightly taken aback... then we had to re-develop it again for Fuel festival and we slashed and burned it until it really worked... we then did the same show for a season at Q Theatre in Auckland and got amazing responses from the audience and an incredible review! The whole affair has proven beyond doubt my theory that a devised show needs three periods of development to work the best it can!
Who or what has inspired you recently?
The circus crew in The Bartered Bride!! They're all so exciting, so skilled and so into the world! Opera has also been a big inspiration! I promise I'll never try it out onstage but it's just such a beautiful artform.
Tell us a bit about your background and work.
I trained as an actor and through that got excited about physical performance. A few years after graduating I discovered that creating circus theatre is absolutely my vocation! I spent about six years working and creating underground and very experimental work which taught me heaps! About all sides of the process, from how to create something when inspiration is hard to come by, to how to make things with no money and still balance the books, to how out-there you can be before the audience will walk away... In 2009 I created a fringe burlesque show intended to question what burlesque is doing in our society at the moment... this created a bit of an impact, the beginning of an audience and fuelled the formation of The Dust Palace. Since then we've been creating!! We were super lucky to be asked to open Q Theatre's Loft space last year and this year we were the first ever to perform in Q's main stage in the round.
Tell us a bit about your role in The Bartered Bride
I was asked to find the right circus performers in NZ to fill the roles required... someone who can ladder-walk, an adagio couple, a contortionist, and a chair balancer... most of them I found fairly easily but the chair balancer... there wasn't one available in NZ! Serendipitously I had a major breakthrough in my hand balancing about two weeks before rehearsals began... so I have ended up with the terrifying job of stacking four chairs on a table and balancing on top of them!
Have you performed in an opera before? What have been some of the challenges and rewards?
No I never have! A not-very-good-at-singing actor/circus performer isn't often employed in an opera I must admit... :) Challenges began before rehearsals... gathering a group of highly skilled performers, many of whom have not worked together before, could have gone horribly wrong... and training new skills! My favourite challenges! The rewards are in the day to day joy of working with such a fun and amazing crew and in the future these relationships and skills could present! We've already talked about a collaboration between the Loons Circus Theatre company from Christchurch and The Dust Palace! Exciting stuff!
What are some of your other recent and upcoming projects?
Ooo, coming up next we have Love and Money at TAPAC Theatre, opening November 15th until 24th! Love and Money is a circus theatre show created from real life stories of strippers. It was devised from experiences of members in the cast and the whole thing incorporates our circus skills in the telling of the stories... a merger of circus-cabaret and theatre.
If you could go back and choose a completely different career path to the one you've chosen, what would it be?
Gosh... I actually honestly wouldn't want to... If I HAD to I'd possibly be a nuclear physicist.
What place is always with you, wherever you go?
My parents’ house and the home I grew up in for 17 years... the bush around it, the colour of the wooden floor...
What's the best way to listen to music, and why?
In a still place up high somewhere... watching the landscape or the sea... It allows the innate epic in the music to come out and envelop your imagination.
You are given a piece of string, a stick and some fabric. What do you make?
If the stick was big and strong enough I'd tie it up with the string and hang the fabric off it... Voila! Silks!
What's the best stress relief advice you've ever been given?
Eve... Just Stop.
What’s great about today?
Today is always the best day!
What’s your big idea for 2013?
We have two new shows in development and we're going to tour Love and Money... We have recently been given some support by an extraordinary patron and so we'll be working with a new producer which is just so exciting for the possibilities it will create for us!!!
* * * The Big Idea 10th Birthday Questions * * *
What does The Big Idea mean to you?
A wonderful meeting place of like minded people supporting and growing each other!
What changes have you noticed in circus-theatre in the past 10 years?
Circus-theatre has gained a lot of popularity in Auckland in the last 3 or 4 years... I think the cabaret / burlesque mesh has been great for audiences who were put off by 'physical theatre' being a bit inaccessible and weird for them... Growing an awareness and an audience! Good changes!
What are some of the opportunities and challenges for the next decade?
To keep growing and changing! To get to a point where NZ circus work is heralded worldwide as awesome and innovative!
Four years ago Eve Gordon set up The Dust Palace as an umbrella to encompass all the plays, physical works, events and films she creates. These have ranged from experimental film festivals to one off art and music events; cabaret/burlesque shows to script based theatre.
Eve's award-winning experimental film Blue Tide, Black Water is still screening worldwide; she took her first curatorial role as performance director for SPLORE festival this year; and she is currently working with the NBR New Zealand Opera on its production of The Bartered Bride.
The NBR New Zealand Opera production of The Bartered Bride opens in Auckland on Saturday 22 September and Wellington on Saturday 13 October. It is sung in English.