Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Brightest Diamond on Acting in Matthew Barney's Khu

Drowned in Sound just posted an essay by performer My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden) about her experience acting in Matthew Barney's Khu.

"The audition was like nothing I had ever done. Composer Jonathan Bepler sat with me and a friend of mine from my high school choir who I had dragged along. We sat in a small circle and Jonathan closed his eyes and started breathing exercises. We mimicked him and our heart rates slowed. Jonathan asked us to try different exercises in noise-making, sometimes by singing himself, then having us repeat it or at other times giving us facial expressions that we interpreted. Already I was on the edge of my comfort zone making "ugly" sounds, but it was so fun, improvising and going into the unknown, that I didn't have much time to evaluate what the sounds actually were...

I was assigned a role, a police officer aptly named Lieutenant Worden, who was overseeing a search for a missing body... My character was bossing around an all female opera chorus, which included FBI agents and local officers.

On October 2nd,2010, filming commenced as we began our investigation on the shores of the Rouge River. From the sheriff's boat on the river, we sang call and response yodel-like calls while four other boats filled with saxophones and a percussionist circled. On a barge, as the "dead body" of a car was hoisted from the river by a crane, we sang in horror as we recognized the one we had longed to find. Back on land, a procession of horn players and opera singers wailed cluster chords, walking with Butoh-like slowness, a long march to the funeral of the car. Upon mounds of black soil, the orchestra stood in rows. The temperature began to drop to somewhere around 48 degrees (8.89 celcius). Surrounding five custom build blast furnaces, we sang as percussionist hit trash cans and cymbals whipped down several stories of cable wire, a sound which was amplified over loud speakers. It began to rain, a freezing rain. We waited for over two hours for the weather conditions to be right for twenty-five tons of molten iron to pour from the furnaces into a molded pit. A string player in the row in front of me fainted. The audience was sent away as a safety precaution. Some of the other musicians started leaving voluntarily."

Read the full article here.

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