Here is some inspiration and ideas for the very early conceptual development of ‘Stone Patience’, the next hybrid physical theatre performance work that I’m creating, hopefully ready for Spring 2018.
The original concept of this work is inspired by very interesting questions raised by my own trans-cultural relationship as an Australian woman with an Iranian man who left Australia disenchanted to return to his homeland only to return again so that we could be together. But we didn’t know if he would return for a while and so I visited him in Iran and considered what life would be like there for a creative Western woman. This experience left me with a strong curiosity to look deeper into how relationship can be effected by politics, culture and life circumstances. Beneath this story is the concept of ‘Stone Patience’ or the ‘patient stone’, based upon a traditional Iranian tale which suggests that the sharing of sorrows with a patient listener can liberate a person from their suffering and expand their capacity to love. It also links in with the idea of being patient and enduring hardships while waiting for love to unfold.
This is a beautifully illustrated Farsi storybook of the traditional Iranian story, “Arosake Sange Saboor” (Doll of Stone Patience) that I found in Shiraz, Iran. This tale will weave in and out and run parallel to the real life story mentioned above. In the tale is a male sleeping beauty covered in needles, that the female protagonist must awaken by patiently pulling out his needles over 40 days and 40 nights. She speaks out her sorrows to him while he sleeps and later to a doll while he listens. There is a similar traditional Yugoslavian story “12 Irons Sandles” and a Turkish tale “Patient Stone, Patient Knife”.
Pictured above is my own illustration of the sleeping man covered in needles and below is my own version of this part of the story in prose:
To sit by his side 40 nights and 40 days
To take out his needles, while she sings and prays.
To eat but one almond each day as her meal
And a thimble of water, only then will he heal.
With a thimble of water and an almond too
Laleh grew thinner, each day it is true
And each passing day to the young man she sang
And told him her story, how her sorrows began.
Actor Fariborz Moham is my performance partner for ‘Stone Patience’. I’m very lucky to have such a generous and open minded creative colleague for this project. So far we have been sharing our personal reflections on the concept and are exploring the physical form of the work.
Nirvana Pilkington has been sharing her holistic knowledge, skill and philosophy of contact, counterbalance and acro with Fariborz and I to help us develop a movement vocabulary that is authentically ours. I would like to devise the movement based element of the work in this way so that we can express the story with honesty.
Leila Honari is a Persian carpet designer, illustrator and animator with a background in Persian miniature painting. She uses both traditional and digital media in her illustrations with a focus on Middle-Eastern mythologies and traditions. Leila and I have discussed projecting illustrations, photo images and text in Farsi and English as a storytelling device in the performance. We would like to use screens with an unconventional shape to project media that adds to the aesthetic of the work.
The sketchbook below shows on the left, Leila’s ideas for projection surfaces. On the right side of the page are ideas for a possible steel stage design structure that can be moved around by the performers and used as a small platform stage to emulate furniture or as a structure to move on or hang off (my aerialist brain in action). One side of the structure could have a flat surface to be used for image/text projection. These are ideas for exploration but are not yet fixed.
Omid Rahimi is a Classical Persian singer whose beautiful vocals will help to tell the ‘Stone Patience’ story. I am eager to explore with Omid just how his voice will become part of the magic and poetry of the work.