Tegan Peacock talks about her working process

How do you work with the concept of concentrating on the process of creation?

Tegan Peacock
 I find it different here, working with Redefining…Home-work, we switched — so the end product is a different idea to what we are used to. Normally we get deadlines and time restrictions. In this country, everyone has different other jobs and so you only have so much time, and you have to have a kind of full piece done by the end of it, so you just need to get it done. And you might not be completely done, there might be things in it that you aren’t sure about, but you have to have a final piece. Whereas in this here, you have a lot more freedom to try things, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But it might turn into something else that will change the piece completely. So I think it opens it up a lot more, it gives you a lot more freedom, but it is at the same time a lot more terror.

So does that change the way you usually work?

My past experience of what I’ve been doing is either get taught the choreography, you come into the rehearsal and you get told you do this, you do that, here it is…and that’s it. And the other work that I’ve done is the work with my collaboratives who I work with in Pietermaritzburg, with two other people. We’ve very much, the three of us, been working in this kind of ideal, that it is not necessarily one of us who is choreographing, it becomes very much a group process in creating what we’re creating. We are discussing about what we are doing. So I’m also not very used to being the person who has to make the final call, to make the final decision, just because of the nature of who I’ve worked with and where I’ve been able to work up until this point. Which is also different, because I’m used to be in a collective or collaborative kind of working. To a degree this here still is, because we’ve also been working together, everybody has their place in the process, which is good.

So for this then coming in, I needed an idea where I wanted it to go, and what I wanted to try in the spaces, but then to leave it completely open. For me this has been a completely new way of working. And it has been interesting, it has been good.

And how does it work with the sharing of ideas? Especially when there is a language barrier between English and French?

The language gets tricky sometimes. Also, because I speak fast (laughing), drives Papy up the wall. He can’t understand me and that’s just because I speak fast, naturally. So I always need to slow down a bit, but we get there. And Jabu is very good. She becomes the translator, even though she speaks no French, she becomes the English — French translator, when it is just the three of us.

On Saturday, when Boyzie was translating for me for Papy — this is on the understanding, that Boyzie completely understands me. So Papy can say he understands, but he understands Boyzie, Boyzie might not be completely on the same page as me, so there is that communication break down as well.

It gives a whole new dynamic on the working progress as well, how to get ideas across, how to actually translate this to other people and to get them to do it, to discuss.

And other than language, what does it do to the working process, the fact, that you’re not from the same country? Collaborating as a South African artist with a Congolese artist…

I think the kind of things that we are dealing with and the way that we have been working is some sort of a connection between the countries. As much as they are foreign to each other, there are also quite a lot of similarities in the sense that how theatre is progressing in this country and the idea of taking it out of the space. Because there isn’t that going into other spaces, which creates already some kind of connection. I know that Papy and them they do a lot of their work outside, a lot of their work takes place in a public space, so that is very different to here and it doesn’t happen very much. People here like to be in their safe environments. So by stepping out of that here, we are putting us into a similar setting, I think.

Yes — that was huge, because when we worked with Faustin, in Kisangani, we worked at the Studio Kabako every afternoon, in their space outside, under a tree, which was so different to here.

For how long?

Three to four weeks… we have been working there for about three weeks. And that was completely different. Everyone comes in, and watches, or people are passing by, it is completely open.

So for you it is going into a different context, going there?

Yeah, at that point, yes. Because I hadn’t really experienced anything kind of beyond. But I think the whole point of this program is that it needs to be changing here, the idea of being in a studio, in the theatre. The majority of the people can’t see it, so it doesn’t make sense. It is not actually relevant to the majority of the country.

Hannah Pfurtscheller, March 15, 2016 — Beer Hall

All pictures courtesy Durban Centre of Photography
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