The title of the project is ”The otherness of the self”. If I want to Find the Otherness, I should at least have a clue about what the Self is.
Is it neurons?
”a persistent illusion created by a multitude of interrelated cognitive modules in the brain” Dan Zahavi FN
Is it something we do or build?
”Being a self is an achievement rather than a given, and therefore also something that one can fail at. Selves are not born, but arise in a process of social experience and interchange. Indeed, many would consider the self as a construction, something more a matter of politics and culture than of science and nature” Dan Zahavi FN
Is it something we feel?
”The ideas of self-consciousness, self-expression, self-presentation and self-fashioning do not exhaust the conceptual problems awaiting a historian of the Renaissance self, or better, of the variety of ’Renaissance selves’. Self-knowledge, self-confidence, self-cultivation, self-examination and self-reliance also deserve to be considered. So does self-respect, an idea which was usually formulated in this period in terms of ’honor’.”Peter Burke FN
”-in other words, man is an enigma to himself” C.G Jung FN
These quotes illustrate challenges in the process of working on the characters’ selves. I experienced over and over again how fleeting their personalities and selves were. One moment I was certain I’ve met their true selves, only to have to begin from the beginning in the next. Yes, they are as enigmatic now as they were before I started.
What is A Role
From early 17th century: from French rôle, from obsolete French roule ‘roll’, referring originally to the roll of paper on which the actor's part was written”.FN
Anyone can, in principle, take on any given role. Social roles (parent, teacher, leader…) and well as Roles in a play or opera (like the roles in Orfeo)FN
Grotowski adds to this and, at the same time shows the complexity: ”What is the role? In fact it’s almost always a character’s text, the typed text that is given to the actor. It is also a particular conception of the character, and here again there is a stereotype. Hamlet is an intellectual without greatness, or else a revolutionary who wants to change everything.”
What is a Character
Characters are the persons in a drama, play, novel, life. Persons who in turn can play roles.
”An opera’s protagonists are of course characters, telling their own stories in their own time. But they are also individuals singing for us here and now, in our time. These are temporalities of different orders.” FN
Ståle Wikshåland, Norwegian musicologist.
The Characters in L’ORFEO (and their roles) FN
Orfeo - Hero
Euridice - Innamorata (Lover)
Messagiera - the Messenger
Speranza - The guide
Caronte - The Bad Guy
Proserpina - The Goddess
Plutone - The mighty God
A Shepherd - the Human Mirror
Elisabeth Holmertz is also a character, whos role I play in this project (and sometimes in life.). Her roles in this project are the soprano, the agent of the other roles, the Corago (see chapter 8), the artistic researcher…
Sometimes I got my roles mixed up, not knowing what or who I should be: the singer or the agent of the characters/roles. This is not a project in which I can hide from myself - ultimately the audience will hear and see Me. Intimidating as it may sound, I believe that I and my self will be quite obvious, even if I try to hide behind the characters and play their roles. Elisabeth Belgrano writes beautifully about this dilemma and how the singer has her self as an instrument. Her words: ”The singer’s paradox consists of allowing the voice its intuition, to be expressive and passionate on stage, yet attempting to remain within conscious physical and emotional control. There is a need for the singer to become aware of the self in this balancing act. Where is I on stage? What does it I mean when I interpret the voice of another being?” FN
The common thread in the selves we hear and in L’Orfeo is that they are formed by one person - my self, Elisabeth Holmertz. They were Otherness, but as soon as I touched them and sang like them, they became part of my own self. What happened in that meeting was, hopefully, what Karen Barad is talking about in the quote at the beginning of this chapter.