Wednesday, January 23, 2008

grant update

i've been working on it, but i need to take some type of break. but i report to you what i have done.

i managed to write the "short description" of the piece:
Una Corda is an original solo performance opera about cancer. Drawing aesthetic influences from late minimalism, pop music, sacred text and music, this project juxtaposes the solo singing/speaking body with live and recorded music, video, and Buddhist and Catholic ceremonial rituals.

and then, as i was trying to tackle the long description, i drew a blank. and in my notes, i wrote this (warning, it is stream-of-consciousness and unedited):
how do I talk about the relationship between the sacred and the profane without seeming totally flippant or trite? This relationship is indeed vital, crucial, even to the idea of the piece. It is how I have managed to approach the piece in a specific and focused way as opposed to an abstract idea. The sacred text is a kind of map by which I can meditate on the pain and profanity of cancer as a disease and cultural marker. Because cancer is more than just an illness. It is not only that the process of sickness, healing and dying is painful, but cancer has established itself in our collective consciousness as a symbol of both a death sentence as well as ultimate redemption. This polarity in attitudes toward cancer is what I find the most problematic and interesting. Because, as a lived experience, it becomes difficult to just continue if the disease is only either death or redemption. Somewhere in between, we find different ways of examining our humanity, of how we interact with strangers as well as loved ones. Somehow, cancer becomes an organizing structure. It creates priorities that didn’t used to exist. It sets certain relationships and moralities into focus.

I say this as if I know. But really, I’m just writing about what I saw. What I have seen over and over again. There is a kind of “reckoning” that happens in cancer. Whether or not the patient lives on or dies. And this reckoning is probably both internal and external. But it’s the external reckoning—the one that involves community, family, and friends—that has touched me and called me to engage in this piece.

Because cancer is more than just about mourning. And it’s more than just blind hope. Because there is that glint of wisdom in the grief, and there is that shudder of reality in desire.

So, this is what the piece is about? How do I express that in 800 words? How do I express it in 100?

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