Nu Ark Experiments: In Conversation

1 September 1998 at 9:00 am (News, Press, Spoken Word, Theatre, Work Notes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Nu Ark Experiments : In Conversation
September 1998

The Nu Ark Experiments, a series of experimental spoken word performances produced by e. g. bailey for the Minnesota State Arts Board in collaboration with S. A. S. E:  The Write Place and Intermedia Arts, began in May of 1998 and will continue through April of ’99.  To help explain the Nu Ark concept, an excerpt of a conversation with e. g. bailey and Genesis, bassist of Arkology, follows:

E.G.:  The Nu Ark Experiments is a series of spoken word performances to showcase the different ways that spoken word can be presented.  We have a strong and lively spoken word community but most of the time they tend to be poetry readings.

Genesis:  At small venues.  I’ve noticed that the Nu Arks, they’re all different places.  They’re not places that ordinarily have spoken word.

E.G.:  But (again) most of the time with spoken word events, it’s usually just a straight ahead reading.  It’s usually with a poet reading their work.  But one of the things I’m trying to do with the Nu Ark Experiments is expose the different ways that it can be done.  Not just with poets and musician, but stretching that too.  Starting with that foundation and that mix of bringing poets and musicians together but then looking at presenting it in a performance art vein.  Looking at presenting it in a film vein.  And focusing on various themes like community.  Focusing on concepts, like with Soft Red Read that we did at Nautilus Music-Theater, where it was focused on non-linear music, non structured music, non melodic types of things, and looking at working with the concept of space and with some of the ideas that Sun Ra talks about.  And creating a soundscape and a landscape of sounds and music for the words to be a part of.

Genesis:  And work with movement.  That was important.

E.G.:  Part of the Nu Ark Experiments is to also give others in the community an opportunity to perform.  Give other artists in the community an opportunity to work with spoken word.

Genesis:  Recognize the new format.  And they might work better in the new format than the traditional format.

E.G.:  Looking at collaborating with Truth Maze (Brother Heru), who also organizes and facilitates readings.  Working with Siddiq of the Rhyme Sayers Collective and giving him an opportunity to work in another vein other than just as a DJ mixing hip hop and able to find other things musically that he wouldn’t normally be able to find.

Genesis:  And he could bring that back to the Rhyme Sayers.

E.G.:  And hoping to complete the collaboration with Ayesha Adu (on Village Blues), who is a filmmaker, who has worked on just about every major film that came through here in the last couple years and a couple independents, and written a couple screenplays.  But again working with other artists.  Not only allow them another opportunity to present their work, another vein to present their work through but to also showcase them and bring them to the attention of the spoken word community.  And say this spoken word is not a monolithic thing.  Poetry readings and poetry itself doesn’t just have to be isolated to just reading your poems in front of a microphone in front of an audience.  That it can involve music.  It can involve movement.  It can involve film.  It can involve just about anything that you want it to involve.  It doesn’t just have to be read.  Spoken word gives poetry the freedom of being.  Being sung.  Being musical.  Being a straight forward reading.  Being just music even.

Genesis:  We have started things where the rhythmic part of what’s being said turns into the rhythmic basis for the music so that it’s still there (and) echoes that line and whoever’s hearing they’re still aware of what made that line that made that rhythm and everything else that’s said on top of it carries a different weight because of it.  So it’s not just like the band is playing some rhythm.  No they’re keeping a chant behind.

E.G.:  And what comes through, in having seen Trekteh Beam Express and working with Arkology doing the work that we do, it really opens up spoken word away from this idea that it’s just about reading poems.

Genesis:  Bitter poets in coffee shop.  That old idea.

E.G.:  It says spoken word can be anything.  It can be more than this.  That’s not to devalue that, it’s to give it another path that poetry can take.  And that’s the essence of it right there.  The Nu Ark Experiments developed out of the concept  of arkology.  Of ways of travel.  Of means of travel.  Whether that travel is musical.  Whether that travel is words.  Here is a new ark.  Here’s a new…

Genesis:  A new beginning?

E.G.:  A new beginning.  And again with just the word ark.

Genesis:  All those associations right off the bat.

E.G.:  The Ark of the Covenant, which aligns with a new beginning.  The arc.  The shape of something.  The Ark.  Noah’s Ark.  And taking that and working in the concept of experimentation.  Of it allowing it to be different.  Allowing yourself freedom for it to be other things.  To develop into other things.  And most of the time we are not sure exactly what the outcome of it will be.  But it’s matter of putting the experiment into place.

Genesis:  It makes it more of that journey.  We know we’re gonna start here.  We don’t know where home is, if it’s gonna be home.  What the end’s gonna be.  It’s the joy of discovery.

E.G.:  And really working within that idea of traveling.  Allow yourself the freedom to travel.  Allow yourself to find other spaces.  Allow yourself to become other things.  Allow yourself the freedom to express yourself.

The next Nu Ark Experiment will be September 15th is titled Open House Under Sky and will explore the sense of community.  See the listing on page ____ for dates of other experiments and workshops and/or call xxx-xxxx for more information.

This series is co-sponsored by SASE:  The Write Place, Intermedia Arts, KFAI Fresh Air Radio, Da X Factor Newz, Powderhorn Writers Festival, Write On RaDio! and KMOJ Radio.  It is supported by a grant by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature.  In addition, this activity is supported in part by a grant from the NEA.

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