Some things about not being in the studio:

• Today I heard somebody use their car horn for the first time (we have been in Japan for over a week).
• At some underground stations bird song is played on the platforms or escalators.
• Everybody waits for the green man at road crossings, even at the smallest roads. A symptom of a polite and respectful culture.
• But you have to negotiate sharing the pavement with bicycles.
• There is no clear way to say ‘no’ in Japanese. ‘Iie’ seems to be a polite way of declining or disagreeing, but is not the same as ‘no’ in English.
• Almost everything I purchase at the supermarket is not what I think it is.
• I saw a watermelon that cost the equivalent of £14.

Some things about being in the studio:

• I have acquired some wings!
• The title ‘Desire / Disaster’ is floating through my mind as possible for the piece. I have been thinking about aeroplane crashes and death and violence and a need to be loved, and this seems apt.
• The space I think I have chosen at the theatre we are performing in is a traverse stage. I have not made a work with the audience on both sides before. I like the sense of length this gives to the space, and it seems to heighten my awareness of how I am using the ‘stage’ space, how I am mentally laying out material.
• I asked for some lights and a data projector to experiment with in the studio. Ironically, I feel like these technologies that are ‘conventions’ of a theatre space are making it harder for me to continue experimenting. They seem to want me to commit to things, to set them.
• We are going to have to deal with a language barrier when we present our work here. We might have a translator, or surtitles, or a written hand-out. I thought about displacement and belonging (or not-belonging), and about a show that is deliberately performed in a language that is not the primary language spoken. So here, I perform it in English, back in the UK I could perform it in German.
• Over the last two days I have done a lot of dancing. There is a point in almost every process where I make a dance, and I never know if it is actually good as a moment of performance, or if I am just being hoodwinked by enjoying dancing. I usually take the dance out. Maybe this will be the piece where I don’t.

Ira Brand


I’m in foggy forest at this time.

I think necessity of finding something like a compass.

I’d like to attach fictional dimension to this work.

so I have to notice things that could not be.

– Kiguchi


27th January, 2013

Today I had the studio for the whole day. Ira, Andrew, Rebecca and the adorable VP took off to Tokyo for a days outing and I imagine Kiguchi was somewhere elsewhere being busy. Before I arrived I entertained myself along the way.

I’ve now taken to filming small excerpts in the streets of Yokohama as I am considering building an abstract narrative that could link part of the performance… the part where i don’t perform. One of my earlier questions was to consider how might the performance engage or disengage without my entire presence holding the light. I have limited experience in the art of editing and film making so the outcome could be a little brutal but I’m open for the beating.

I have decided to take the challenge and use the whole of the studio the two halves dividing the action, dividing the audience and to work with a third perspective of he/she who sees the better part of both. I’m uncertain at this point of a resolution and to the exact purpose of the third person however over the course of the next week I hope this becomes clearer.

My default mechanism to move first and develop a vocabulary of physical images has been restricted by my imposing a different mode of building a structure. I have been deliberately attempting to create scenes that move through the space creating moments of absence and presence within fixed time frames with a vague sense of how I might dance and interact. This led me to writing the beginnings of a narrative for a short story that is filtered with elements of this Japanese experience part in facts and in myths. The discovery of a demon scarecrow lurking in the black box made my day.

At lunch Seth and I met up for a coffee. I’m grateful for his curiosity and insights, his questions occasionally left hanging in the air unanswered but with thoughtful provocation

Matthew Morris

rehearsal and improvisation – demon scarecrow


On Monday we had our second meeting to discuss the rules we have been given. As we talked about the rule ‘You also are here’, Seth mentioned that in relation to me this rule had been intended to be about being present in my body, about perhaps being a bit less cerebral, about letting my ‘mammalian self’ lead. This has been on my mind (I know, the irony…) a lot since. I usually begin a project with a concept, making a piece of work knowing what it will be about. It doesn’t follow a linear narrative necessarily, but I have a topic or theme that material is generated in response to and, to some extent, refers back to. My first solo show was a piece about fear, for example, and the piece I am currently developing (outside of this residency) is about ageing.

So how does one begin making a performance in a way that is less cerebral? Or more specifically, how do I (over-thinker, conceptual-worker)?

I do make work that is visual, but usually always start with writing exercises and generating text. So I set myself a challenge to work primarily to generate images and physical material. I improvise and I film myself. I play a sort of free association with images and gestures I am making in the space.

I decide to use available sources (the book I am reading, the essay I downloaded before we left London, the objects I have to hand) as stimuli and tools and let them feed into the work. There is a pleasing immediacy to this. Attack!

I play a sort of free association with images on paper, when I cannot find images in the space. I spend an hour listening to music and sketching in response to the music, in response to yesterday’s ideas, in response to the images that are already gathering themselves together like a pack.

I try not to worry about meaning or ‘about’. This is hard for me. I get ‘about-anxiety’. Often in a process I will at some point get rid of material because it doesn’t have enough relevance to the theme of the show, or doesn’t say the right thing. I think this is necessary, of course, but I like the idea of this process now being about making space for those things. Allowing them to be for their own sake, at least for now.

Ira Brand