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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance


CLEARING | Center for Performance Experiment

Professor Robyn Hunt has conceived and directed this original slow tempo production, inspired by the influential work of Japanese director Shogo Ohta. CLEARING will be performed December 6 at 4pm and 5:30pm.

The UofSC Dept. of Theatre and Dance
presents

Clearing

Conceived and directed by Robyn Hunt

December 6, 2016

Center for Performance Experiment
718 Devine St.
(between Huger and Gadsden Streets, near the Colonial Life Arena)


Show Times:

4pm & 5:30pm


Free Admission

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.  Arrive early, as seating is limited.


“What we’re trying to do, really, is lay bare ‘what a piece of work is man,’ and how it is that the simplest things we do — sitting, looking, whispering, resting — have elegance and dignity.  But, we sometimes don’t notice because we’re just buzzing through.”

Clearing is inspired by the works of influential Japanese director Shogo Ohta, who utilized extreme slow movement and silence to create a world of distilled action for the actors and audience alike.  Clearing director Robyn Hunt calls the effect “a kind of hyper-realism.” 

“It has a very plain, zen training kind of atmosphere,” she explains.  “It doesn’t tolerate many embellishments which bring too much attention to the form.  It doesn’t tolerate decoration.  It doesn’t tolerate a kind of precious showcasing of basic things like sitting, or looking, or deciding something.  Those things need to be as ordinary as they are in our ordinary lives, and then, like the zen masters say, ‘the ordinary becomes extraordinary.’”

Hunt describes the action of the performance as a series of entrances by the actors, who each perform a separate task each time they enter the playing space.  “The tasks are related to their effort to leave something behind for the next generation,” says Hunt.  “And, what should that be?  How can you leave this little bit of the world better than you encountered it?”

The overall narrative concept, Hunt explains, is that a group of people have migrated to a clearing, an empty space, after an unspecified climactic event.  “As they come upon this clearing, they have to choose what to leave behind.  What is it in the human spirit that wants to leave a mark?”

In addition to the extreme physical challenge to the actors, Hunt admits that entering the slow tempo environment can also be difficult for the audience.  However, she says the payoff for sticking through the initial discomfort is more than worth the effort.

She explains with a laugh, “When [slow tempo] starts, you think, ‘Oh, that’s novel.’  Then, you think, ’Oh, dear God, how am I going to sit here?’  But then, once you are able to breathe through that, the time change works in such a way that you can feel transported to an entirely new place, and that’s what we devoutly wish for.  People have said that they experience attention to detail in a different way, and they see afterimages of the slow tempo world in daily life.  And, if that happens, then we’ve done our job.”

“What we’re trying to do, really, is lay bare ‘what a piece of work is man,’ and how it is that the simplest things we do — sitting, looking, whispering, resting — have elegance and dignity.  But, we sometimes don’t notice because we’re just buzzing through.”

Performing in Clearing are MFA in Acting students Donavon St. Andre, Kimberly Braun, Gabriela Castillo, Matt Cavender, Kaleb Edley, Kimberly Gaughan, Libby Hawkins, Darrell Johnston and Nick Stewart, as well as scenic design MFA student Neda Spalajkovic, directing MFA student Lindsay Rae Taylor, and theatre MA student Jeanette Thomas.

For more information on Clearing or the theatre program at the University of SC, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via mail at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.