So, what exactly does ‘Scintilla’ mean? It is a ‘soul-spark’ (Jung’s definition) and I am seeking ways to find some kind of soul-spark, to express it, to reveal it. I have been searching for that ‘Scintilla’ within the landscape of the poem Crag Inspector by David Hart.
I offer my ears and eyes open. Closed. Open. Closed.
Why this poem? Crag Inspector opens up worlds for me to explore: exterior worlds – of the wild beauty of Bardsey Island – and interior worlds of memories, fantasies and nightmares, and of a mind trying to make sense of being human, within these worlds.
…I offer my memories.
And how does that work as a composer? I imagine the island. I imagine the pull and push of memories, of ghosts and dreams. I imagine the ecstasy of flying across the sea on the back of a swallow. I open to these thoughts. I play with them. I let the poetry and my imagination lead me:
closed eyes open
closed ears open
closed mouth open
closed imagination open
closed play open
Where has this led to? Scintilla 1 – May 2019 – was a first layering of music, poetry, live electronics and choreography, conjuring up the island and the Crag Inspector himself. The performance captured some of the essence of Scintilla – choreographed and performed by Dane Hurst (see Marking Milestones 2). But I know now there is so much more to explore…
Scintilla 2 September 2019 – I decided to break out of the mould, leave the existing material to one side and explore Scintilla in new ways. A whole set of new ideas for voice, percussion, clarinet and live electronics was presented in an interactive workshop in September.
Balloons, games, breathing, ping pong balls, break down, toy windmills, egg timers and a 10m snake of packaging paper were used to explore mental health, isolation, the wounded healer – within new layers of poetry, music, sound, choreography and film. The audience of therapists and friends (including some friends who are therapists) gave frank responses in a post-workshop discussion, helping shape the path to find Scintilla.
…I offer my sigh.
Now I want to weave these two existing ‘ScintillaWorlds’ with a newly spun thread – Augmented/Virtual Reality – to form three interconnected layers: a world of imagination, the real world, the virtual world. Somehow… the search continues…
I offer another, bigger sigh.
‘…we were greeted by performers walking in the round playing with balloons whilst musicians were playing… it was a wonderful, diverse and innovative performance of various acts flowing from one to the other, leaving us wondering at every single step of the way what might be happening next… a childlike performance, where the audience was allowed to play… to take part, and wondering what was being exposed in front of their eyes. …There were moods of light and dark being exposed …this was a serious story portraying the journey of mental health that exists in a lot of people… It allowed all of us in the audience to get our own perspective to really feel what it must be like to suffer…
This wasn’t an ordinary performance. It invoked emotion in the viewers, in the listeners; a performance of voice, a performance of acting, dance, music, sound and video…. a truly remarkable and amazing performance of talented people who are trying to get the message out to the world that something needs to be done.’
Michael de Groot audience member
I offer touch.
Many thanks – first to Wild Plum Arts for my composers’ residency as part of @MadeAtTheRedHouse in August 2019 – and to the Develop Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England allowing me to work with my creative team at the wonderful setting of Hellens Manor in September 2019. Also thanks to Sound and Music ‘New Voices’ for their ongoing support for the project. You too can donate! ScintillaSupporter
More about Liz Johnson here
Poetry excerpts from Crag Inspector by David Hart, published by Five Seasons Press (with permission).