Davey Calderon creates a new work
PTC’s Dramaturgy & Programming Intern, Davey Calderon, is often in the studio these days developing a new theatrical creation. We know how eclectic and interesting his training and influences are, and we are intensely curious about the sounds coming from the Test Kitchen, so Kathleen asked him to share something about the work and his unique process with us.
KF: Can you tell us a bit about the new work you’re currently developing?
DC: I’m focused on the creation of The D.A.V.E.Y Project – a one man show exploring the ever shifting facets of self-identity. I have five of my own personas coming to life to talk about, argue, and play with how we define ourselves. Sex, gender, citizenship, culture, spirituality, nurtured environment and other identifiers are put on the stage to ask two big questions: “Who am I?” and “Why do I matter?”
It’s a piece that is very personal – my life is under the spotlight – but it’s a narrative that I think is recognizable and relatable to others.
KF: Do you have a “usual” process for developing new work? If so, what are some of the tools you use?
DC: After training for five or six years (and still continuing to do so), a “usual” process has been a struggle for me. In the past, I tailored my process according to the “tools” I had at my disposal and where the project was heading. It’s only recently I have set a methodology and that I know can be altered to suit what a new work calls for.
Mainly my “tools” are techniques and exercises from Viewpoints, Grotowski physical theatre, devised theatre composition practices, and clowning. Depending on the day, artistic goal, and/or collaborators, I plan which methods or exercises can serve my process best that day. I find using these techniques anchors me and provides space to create intuitively within parameters. Like an old teacher use to repeat over in acting class: “Form creates freedom.”
Photo by Sheng Ho
KF: How did you develop your process?
DC: Many hours in studio!
New(to)Town Collective (a collective of like- minded theatre artists that I co-founded) has been instrumental in creating safe space to experiment with my own process. And that process is composed of tools given to me by my teachers at SFU, Acrobat of the Heart, Mary Overlie, Linda Putnam, David Macmurray Smith and other artists I have had the privilege to learn from. How I express my art is still under development, but I suspect it will continue to evolve throughout my lifetime.
My process in The D.A.V.E.Y Project, is based on a clowning creation method taught by David Macmurray Smith. Using practices such as “Lightening Up” (to get into my body) and “River” (free flowing imaginative exploration) has been the foundation in collecting material for the show. From there I have been altering the “river” to develop a set of imaginative parameters in order to create a world specific to a persona and giving all the personas space and time to express themselves. I know it sounds confusing, but think of it as being an anthropologist within your own body. You look within yourself to encounter the culture, behaviours and social-political values of your personas. However, although you are among them, you are purely there as a witness to their lives. My personas have their own identities. Even though they all come from inside me, they provide insight into the various versions of me within one body. By channeling them this way, I can write a play that can honestly express how I view my identity to an audience.
KF: How do you record what you come up with in your exploratory moments? Is there room for an outside eye?
DC: “Rivers,” are documented by video or voice recorder. Afterwards, I take some notes of what I remembered in the exploration and later transcribe the video or recording word for word. Most times I am alone, but I enjoy when there is an outside eye. When I do have an outside eye, before I start, I tell them my goals for the “River” and they are free to take notes. After the exploration I have taken my own notes and then I have a conversation with my observer for the day. I value input from different outside eyes, as a variety of different perspectives on the work keeps me specific on discovering the intricacies within my personas (such as their physicality, voices and intentions). They often have suggestions for the process that I had never considered until talking to them. I have been lucky so far to have some great outside eyes.
KF: What are the challenges, if any, of developing work with other people?
DC: Collaboration works well with personal compromise between members in order to serve a fuller realization of a piece. One compromise is the personal ego. In my experience of collaborations, I have had to check my own ego at the door. When others used to criticize my offers I used to view it as a personal attack or I would stop processes because I felt the direction my collaborators were going were not in line with what I thought the piece should be. These past few years I’ve learned to ‘soften’ my ego and not take things personally. It has helped greatly and there are people that now trust me and want to collaborate with me in creating new works. Just that awareness is enough to work with others and make some damn good art.
KF: Are there ways you can share your processes without everyone having to have the exact same training?
DC: I actual prefer working with people with different training. We may all have different terminologies for things, but the concepts and sources are often the same. Directing has been a great learning opportunity to share my processes with others without having them have the same training. In a way, my process is always getting my collaborators on the same page. First, I like getting a group to collectively set rules we can all agree on. Simple rules like: “Don’t hurt yourself.” can be understood by everyone. Second, I get others to jump right into exercises that are part of my process with minimal but clear instructions. Then afterwards we can discuss what happened and, if we liked what happened, collectively think of a name to call the method for our group. It’s like making an internal game for ourselves so the processes can be understood by everyone in the ensemble. I think the language and rules shared within a studio can easily help the participants share any process, regardless of each individual’s past experiences.
I also would like to thank PTC for giving me the space and time to develop this play. I know a lot of my colleagues are struggling to work part- or full-time jobs and pursuing the art. What a luxury I have been given. Without their support, I don’t even know if The D.A.V.E.Y Project would have ever been able to leave my head and appear on paper. I’ve been given a fighting chance to have my voice heard and I am going to take it.
Davey Calderon is a Filipino Canadian-American born in Oakland, California but grew up in Newfoundland. He has his BFA in Theatre Performance and Communication from Simon Fraser University. He is Co-founder of New(to)Town Collective, an emerging theatre collective based in Vancouver BC, providing accessible, experimental training workshops (called Training Jams) and creating new interdisciplinary works together. Davey is an emerging actor, director and devising artist. His curiosities at the moment are within physical theatre based in Grotowski, devised composition, Viewpoints, Practical Aesthetics, and biographical theatre. He has studied with various artists such as Penelope Stella, Steven Hill, DD Kugler, Stephen Atkins, Raina von Waldernberg and Iris Lau. Recent performances include: Finders Keepers (Theatre in the RAW), Pipef@%! (Vancouver Fringe 2015), The Cold War (SFU Mainstage) and Two Birds on a Wire (Psyche Theatre). Recent directing credits include: KIND (Child): A Staged Reading (New(to)Town Collective) and Donut Holes in Orbit (Directing Projects 2013 & New(to)Town Collective).
For more information on his work and New(to)Town Collective check out: www.newtotowncollective.com