Beginnings – Setting the Stage for Exchange

by Heyward Bracey

1. For you, what role/s does the beginning play in a piece? More specifically, how have you employed beginnings in relation the rest of your work? (i.e. to frame, to present, to juxtapose, contextualize, clarify, foreshadow, etc)

It’s interesting that answering this question feels a little like working on the beginning of a piece. I like to be somewhat site specific with my work so beginnings for me often involve breaking the audience performer membrane or addressing the space in some way. I prefer that their be some kind of physical relationship suggested between the audience and the piece.

2. Author Nancy Kress addresses the reality of having rich and interesting material, and yet, lacking a sense of direction or context for the material. In these instances, how have you found the beginning of your piece? How did you arrive at an idea to begin your piece? What did you confront, clarify to discover the beginning?

Generally I find that I have to let go in some way of the idea of me or my piece being a distinct "thing" that I alone am responsible for. Once I allow for the life, interests and potential of the audience to inform my process it opens up. There have been times when I’ve used some form of random movement generation to get started.

3. At what points in the creating process have you attended to the beginning section of your works? Has dealing with the beginning at different points in the creating process presented unique challenges or discoveries? Please describe.

Sometimes I’ll re-examine the beginning after the piece is further along. Pulling back from a piece to look at how it might work in a new venue can change the way I experience or work with the material.

4. Have you ever had to go back and change your beginning? What occurred or revealed itself that led you to this decision?

Yes. I guess I hope that a piece continues to reveal more about the material and what its presence or role in the community is or does. I tend to regard each piece as an exploration of the above. I like using a piece like a lens – but I don’t like to think of it as something that is solely anchored in my ideas about the world. It’s an exchange.

What are your thoughts about Heyward’s reflection on making solos? Leave a comment below. Want to share your own reflection on making solos? You can share it here. 

Read more reflections by Heyward here.