The Journey from A to B

Hopscotch performance at the LA River, November 1, 2015.

Hopscotch is full of metaphors for human existence and experience. It all begins with the name,  the hopscotch game itself, with each hop as a step in a life path. The way in which this opera is experienced and the language itself also lends itself to the metaphor. Life proceeds as a journey to an unknown destination, via a route, experienced chapter by chapter, from point A to B. For the creative team, the key to unlocking Hopscotch was often as simple as figuring out how to get from point A to point B. It was an expression invoked as we discussed every aspect of the project: from the narrative, to the production, and to the experience.

Often we find in literature that the journey is the schema for being human. Homer’s Odyssey, Joyce’s Ulysses, Kerouac’s On the Road, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn are just a few of the great stories of life as a journey.  As we move from A to B, we accumulate knowledge and experience that forms our identity. These layers of identity are shed or morphed as we locate more A’s and B’s to move to. How we find these points and our relationship to them is what shapes the humans we are from moment to moment.  

A non-linear narrative such as Hopscotch touches on this idea of identity construction. Episodic chapters highlight moments of a life, particularly Lucha’s life. If we are constantly changing, we are never the same person we were a moment ago, let alone years ago. Are you the twenty-two-year-old version of yourself, a young puppeteer just starting out? Or are you the forty-two year old version of yourself, a fully-formed artist, respected in your community? Hopscotch asks us to consider chapters in our lives that in the moment might feel unremarkable, yet in hindsight are so significant, full of meaning. Maybe it’s the little red notebook that you receive as a gift.

Jameson’s and Lucha’s career paths are significant to this meta-narrative. In his scientific search from stars to the human brain, Jameson considers quantum and theoretical physics. And Lucha as a puppeteer explores the uncanniness of human emotion and action. Both are trying to make sense of the world by way of explanation and artistic expression, respectively. Both quietly affirm that we are not the center of the universe, by revealing multiple dimensions of matter and emotions. They both create many A’s and B’s to consider.

From perambulations of the mind to the body – this show actually moves. Leading up to rehearsals, the production team focused on how to get an audience from A to B twenty-four times, clockwise and counterclockwise three times a day for four weeks. Because the show is so complex, process (logistics and systems through discussing, writing, testing, iterating, problem-solving, testing to find the final presentation) accounted for 80% of the work as a whole. The stages went something like this: the creative team discovered how a narrative would function within the mechanics of the show, the production team found the system for assembling the necessary elements and people for the show, then the operations of the routes, and finally the audience experience.

In many ways, the development of Hopscotch is in clear view for the audience, not hidden away behind the proscenium, because it is integral to the experience of the whole work. Therefore, the process itself had to be intensely creative. In some cases, an elegant solution to a production challenge became an epiphany in the story. How, for example, does Jameson’s notebook disappear?

The Industry - Hopscotch - _2015-10-31_13-24-53_IMG_2855

Sharon Kim, Yellow Route

The form and content for the show are intrinsically tied together. However the operations of Hopscotch are not the actual work. The process is in service of a collaborative artwork, with artists, production team and audience, made in real-time response to a city. Creating each chapter of Hopscotch was always a discovery and always theoretical until we stepped out into the city to test an instrument, a voice, a site, a street, a vehicle, a material, a new technology. As for the narrative, in some instances explaining how a character or prop appears or disappears needed to be worked and reworked in real time with the writers and production team. In this way our process began to interpret and express themes of the work.

Beyond the Hopscotch metaphors for life, there is a metaphorical distance in making any artwork. The distance from creator to audience is another A to B. This is the journey the audience makes in order to experience the work, and in that journey, you bring whatever you carry with you, which could be anything –  knowledge, experience, interpretations.  

In Hopscotch, we are asking you to move throughout time and space while on that metaphorical journey. Naturally, it will become very personal. There are too many factors out of our control as the drama of the living city unfolds around our story. What an audience member puts together in his or her version of Hopscotch, we will never know. Our hope in creating this journey is that  each of you will make it your very own.

 

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