Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Crispin Hendrix Experience

Here's kind of what I saw:

What's interesting is how different my performance was. Crispin's voice didn't have that high pitch, which makes this seem more comedic than it was last night. Our performance was much darker, and while funny at times, drew on a different part of the audience. I like how his energy level and his own mood completely change not only the mood of the piece, but the meaning.

In Atlanta, he was at the Plaza Theatre on Ponce, which as he said is an old vaudeville theatre, later made into a movie theatre. The segment seen in this clip is from the first part of the evening. I think he really dug the environment, and let it kind of inspire him, for it was much more dramatic and less frivolous than the clip above. The physical setup was different as well. In Atlanta, he stood on stage in front of a large screen, and the pictures from the book were projected behind him. There was a spotlight on his face and shoulders, and the rest of his body was sort of in shadows. As he read, he did a kind of physical performance as well, periodically gesturing to the screen, melodramatically.

As far as the reading itself...I find it really interesting what he's doing with language. His books are actually old books he's found and then gone into and blocked out sections or deleted entire pages, and written and doodled on. When thus altered and re-read, the words take on entirely new meanings, or shades of meaning. Regardless of what he said to me last night, I find the whole process totally surrealist - there we sit, waiting for the 'story', and all we get is this stock almost-narrative, with recognizable forms, themes and images (death, love, revenge, childhood, maternity) but no actual meaning other than what we bring to it, and draw out of it.

This reading/performance sets up the next portion of the evening, the film itself. I won't go into the film, as it's virtually impossible to discuss. It's something that has to be seen, as so much of it is visual and experiential. But I will say that the process of viewing runs parallel to the experience of watching Crispin read from the books. There are glimpses of things...images, actions, dialogue...that sort of draw on stuff in the viewer's mind, but don't do anything else. Most of the film is told in the viewer's mind, based on previous knowledge or experience. The images simply serve to pull out what's already there. Brilliant.

The last part of the night was the best in many ways. As Crispin said, he travels with his film, partly because he's very protective of it, but also because it provides a kind of interactive viewing experience not found very often anymore. For me, his being there was crucial, partly because of my insane admiration (= schoolgirl crush) on his cute ass, but also because so much of the film depends on the interaction before and after the film. Like he said, in keeping with the vaudeville history of the theatre, his presence and performance is essential to how we experience the film, as it frames the viewing, both temporally and visually, completely coloring what we see when we view the film.

Plus he's cute as a doll. Did I mention that?


Peanut said...

I am so excited for you! Sounds like you had a great time :-) Did you talk to him about Artaud? Your post has piqued my interest in his film. I'd totally be interested in seeing it...but he's not coming to CA in the near future. *insert sad face here*
P.S. When do we get to see your pic with him? ;-)

Julie said...

My STUPID camera blinks out totally randomly, and of course, last night it decided not to work. Luckily my friend Alice had her camera with her, and took a pic of us. She's supposed to send it to me shortly. Tap tap tap...

Sandy, he lives in LA, and I'm sure he'll be screening it out there soon. He mentioned not long ago that he'd been at the Egyptian, so keep an eye out. You've got to go!!!

Julie said...

Oh and no, of course I forgot my Artaud question! I emailed it to him on Myspace but who knows if he reads those. It would have been a fabulous thing to talk to him about, cause he is way influenced by him.

Peanut said...

Oooh, thanks for the info! I will keep an eye out for him...and if you hear anything about him doing a screening in CA, let me know :-)