Hey! Look! It's a Mad King Thomas dance you almost certainly have never ever seen before, called The eyebrow, or some expression of doubt or daring on their faces:
That's Liz Schoenborn & Stephanie Stoumbelis. They're so great. They jumped in to our totally confusing and aimless process with nothing less than complete enthusiasm and they performed the hell out of the dance we made with them.
(The most productive rehearsal for this piece involved five serious hangovers, a little bit of makeup from the night before and a bucket of Halloween candy. It generated the phrase "industrial glitter," which is one of the most useful and perfect phrases of all time. I also hit my head really hard that day while acting like the NFL robot.)
People sometimes say only Mad King Thomas can perform Mad King Thomas work, which is untrue (although I feel flattered when I hear it).
The difference, as far as I can figure, is that when we make a dance on ourselves, it's a really extended form of dramaturgy (as if I even know what that word means). We talk a lot until we find the bones of the thing, then we let performance tell us how the flesh hangs. We sometimes finish pieces earlier, which means we get to practice them, which occasionally leads to crazy things like polishing the work. But the basic arc is a lot of back end research, discussion and argument, with a relatively miniscule amount of work on the front end (what it actually looks like to the audienc). Mad King Thomas bravely dances on with only half a clue what's happening elsewhere on the stage, but fully aware of why it's happening.
When we make work on other people, we suddenly get to WATCH it. It's totally different and usually we get drunk with power. (Do it this way. Okay, do it backwards. Okay, do it faster. No, really faster. Okay, say it with a British accent. Now cry.) The piece gets more codified and rigid.
At this point the dance has become, more or less, an aesthetic object. Something we can look at and turn into something we find aesthetically (rather than performatively or emotionally) satisfying. A thing rather than a lived experience.
When we make work on ourselves, we don't know what the "right way" is to do the dance. We're out there singing and dancing with only our internal sense of the appropriate to guide us. No one says, "Not like that, like this."
When we make work on other people, we constantly say, "Not like that, like this." So our dancers DO have a sense of right vs. wrong. (Yuck.) That's where we go astray. We reenact power structures and exert controls that completely undermine the basic promise of our work:
You already know how to do everything you need to do. Everything you have ever done has prepared you for this moment. You are ready.
All Sparkles, No Heart has a big cast. Only three of them are Mad King Thomas, so I guess it's time we figure this out. Luckily for us, everything they have ever done has prepared them for this moment. We just need to get out of the way.