Pan Pan Theater Workshop
Conduit Dance, Sept 10th
posted by Susan Ploetz
the description of the workshop in the TBA program went like this: “Gavin Quinn and members of Pan Pan invite interdisciplinary performance makers, collaborators, and artists to this hands-on workshop about new, unknown, and impossible practices of artistic expression born from new and leading ideas.” Somehow i envisioned projectors, cameras, as representative of “new and leading ideas”, us running around using them and learning new ways of creating performance and synthesizing new strategies as performers, or, at least a little taste of that. What i got was a 105 minute of ideas and quotes from an outline of a workshop Gavin gave in 1998.

It wasn’t un-enjoyable, but perhaps a little lethargic, and definitely not very hands-on, whatever that was supposed to mean. Gavin is charming, funny, well spoken, and well knowledgeable about theater. he had a lot of great manifestos and theories and beautiful quotes to share, a lot of good points about what your role is as an artist, what art’s role is, lots of good practical suggestions and strategies. He talked about the forming of his company, some past methods and pieces, gave glances into the context of his company in Ireland and also in Europe. All in all, a nice chat with a hard working, smart artist. But felt a bit stingy, he kept talking about how much time theater takes, and i got the sense that he felt like two hours was so short that it wasn’t really worth diving into any real exercises. What we got was more like a pep talk, a motivational speech, some tips from a mentor.
I guess looking back it was a bit presumptuous to assume we’d be frolicking in the lights of projectors while he gave us orders to build our presence or whatever such thing i imagined. He said something to the effect that you shouldn’t really be an experiential artist, that experimenting is a phase and then you figure out what works, and from that point you are a “proceedural-ist”. So he probably doesn’t see all that media stuff as being all that important to focus on. In general, the shape of theater in Europe is more along the lines of the multimedia production Pan Pan theater is presenting at TBA this year (to the point where a Belgian actor friend i know says that now its almost more daring in some parts of Europe to do a more traditional stage production than a crazy multimedia one), whereas i think its still a little exciting and new seeming to a lot of American audiences, i know it is to me, even if i increasingly feel like that excitement makes me a little naive and behind the times.
I guess i feel like, as an artist, i have spent a lot of time thinking about the why of art, and i go to a workshop to figure out the HOW. Since this was his first workshop in 10 years, I’ll give him a break. Even though i wanted more, Its hard to be mad at a eloquent, charming Irishman.