Do You Know?....Gerry Trentham

Gerry Trentham is yet another of the impressive performers involved in Denise Fujiwara's EUNOIA. Since 1998 he has been working under the umbrella of pounds per square inch, creating three full evening works and over 30 short works. He is an in-demand voice and theatre coach for dancers, as well as teaching at the renowned National Voice Intensive. He has danced for many of the greatest Canadian choreographers, including 7 years with Dancemakers under Serge Bennathan's directorship. Gerry has a wicked sense of humour and a fluent mind for text analysis, not to mention his remarkable physical presence.

Here's his take on his role in EUNOIA -- which includes voice and speech directing as well as performing.

 What were your first impressions or thoughts about EUNOIA the poem and the dance project when you first got involved in Denise's process?
I had read parts of the book - dense is what I thought --how in the world will the audience stay interested in sitting and listening when in their homes they can always come and go from the book --- read a poem and then rest.   
I thought these poems are not based in sound, they are based in how words are spelt --- a very different kind of constraint. I wondered what kinds of world each vowel would create when each had a huge range of overlapping and varied sound and pronunciation.  
I thought yikes words, poetry, no inherent action in the text as in a play, I thought there are so many performative challenges to be deal with, are we crazy? 
          And I was very excited. I had faith, insatiable curiosity especially when it comes to the         impossible  and deep trust in the integrity of Denise Fujiwara.
What is the greatest challenge of your role in the project?
As a dancer --- being on the very thin line between expressing/ showing/ inventing beyond the demands of the work (the text, the dance, the task) AND denying inspiration that arrives  and is essential to the moment.

As voice director -- discovering ways to train myself and the cast to move between dance and text seamlessly, to train deeply in our understanding of the text, building and deepening the creative range of  our voices and a foundation for the breath that allows the text to live simply, directly and fully.
Do you have a favourite poem from Eunoia? 
In the beginning I did. Now I love them all. They have all come to life in different ways. It is my job to love each one--- what a great job! 

What has been your relationship or experience with words-and-dance in the past? 
I have always loved the stage but because I could hardly read, cold reading as an actor was out.  Then I took my first dance class I loved it. I also loved words --talking and writing. I wrote differently due to learning to read quite late in life --- it ended up a strange asset -- and my works have often had as much scripted text as dancing. 
After 15 years of performing dance, I did an MFA in Theatre and Graduate Voice Teaching Diploma with David Smukler, a much respected master of Voice. 
I love choreographing or performing words with dance - T.S. Eliot's "raid on the inarticulate'. I see a beautiful space of potential language - dance, text, poetry, words, story, music, design - a struggle to reveal the indescribable. It does not what form or language we call it. All performance is trying to find a way to be with each other  in this beautiful and terrifying world. 
How do you think the 4 year process of Eunoia will inform or influence your own work in the future?
I am changed. I have learned so much from witnessing Denise's leadership, her integrity, her unabashed creativity, her rigor, her generosity. We have discovered a host of new games to play with dance and text - deep embodied practices. 

My fellow collaborators have been such an inspiration throughout this process --- a group that is definitely hard to keep up to - kind, generous and hard working like you can't imagine and fun fun ... intense...then funny ...intense again.

choreographed by Denise Fujiwara
premieres March 19-22 at 8pm
part of Harbourfront's World Stage 2014

photo of Gerry Trentham by Dominique Chartrand


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