Interview: 5 questions with ADF presents ‘The Lectern; rule by rule by rule’

Stop at the red light. Say ‘excuse me’. No white after Labor Day. Such regulations provide structure to how we function in and as a society, right?

There is absolutely nothing to do in New York City. Especially if you are in graduate school, teaching, rehearsing for a musical this weekend, and icing the giant green bruise on your leg from this show last weekend.

Who am I kidding, everyone I know is double-booked. It’s kind of the rule for living in New York, n’est-ce pas?

Jess Ruhlin

Always let someone take a really bad picture of you while stretching! It’s the rule!

The one and only time that rules are fun comes from this upcoming show- ‘The Lectern; rule by rule by rule’ from choreographer comedians Claire Porter and Sara Juli. The performance takes place tonight and tomorrow, October 10th and 11th, at the New York Live Arts Theater. So, actually the TWO and only times….here are the details from the Live Arts site:

New York PremiereThe duo Claire Porter & Sara Juli, first paired by ADF in 2015, present their latest ADF-commissioned collaboration, The Lectern: rule by rule by rule. Living according to rules is the demand on all of us. We are surrounded by the rules of our laws, protocols, manners, and expectations. But what are these rules? What are the rules of the game we’re playing? And what happens when rules take over? Using movement, text, sound, song, and a catwalk runway, the acclaimed comedic performers upend our day-to-day, necessary-to-survive rule-rituals in The Lectern: rule by rule by rule and find the hilarious in the rule-bending of our daily lives.The Lectern by Claire Porter and Sara Juli is commissioned by ADF with support from the Doris Duke/SHS Foundations Award for New Works and The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation. Additional support provided by Hilton Durham near Duke University

I had the pleasure of posing a few questions to Claire and Juli about their process and this piece.

JR: Please describe the initial idea and impulse behind the creation of this piece. Who are the characters? Why make it? Why make it now?

SJ:The initial idea for the piece came from looking at the concept of competition and our desire to win all the time. We examined sports metaphors as a way to look at the fact that while life is a game, it’s not about winning, but rather, how you play.  How you play your life took us into rules and once we found rules, we knew we were hooked. Rules are everywhere and consume our lives. Many are necessary and allow freedoms within (driving, for example). Others are restrictive and leave little room for interpretation or straying from the path.  We wanted to explore a series of vignettes that each address rules from a new perspective.

JR: Does this piece take a political stance or offer reflection on the world we live in today? Is it a parody of anything in particular?

SJ: Definitely. We touch on rules from as many angles as we can: relationship rules, political rules, day to day living rules from tattoos to eulogies. Perhaps, following the show, an audience member might be able to see the rules surrounding them more clearly, but then again, they might not.

JR: As choreographers, you are known for making pieces with humor. How do you handle serious topics with comedy?

SJ: Seriously.

JR: Are you trying to influence or speak on social policy with your art and this piece in general?

SJ: Not particularly. We’re investigating and discovering, discovering and investigating. We’re mining topics to find hidden meanings underneath, exploring and learning along the way and then sharing our findings with audiences.  You’re basically attending our thesis presentation.  We hope you like it.

JR:The chicken or the egg question- which came first, the movement or the text?

SJ: The chicken… Ok. A thematic idea first, then we improvise on the idea through both movement and text; back and forth, back and forth until it comes together as a cohesive idea.

New York Live Arts ADF

In my personal experience of creating work with Claire, it was hard to dissect the final piece and remember how and where things evolved. The text and movement feed each other in a woven rather than layered fashion. The final product, in my experience, was much more thematic, cohesive, and if the stars aligned, funny.

Workshop this past July in Maine: Text and Movement with Claire Porter (I made a piece!)

Thanks to Sara and Claire for answering my questions. If I were not in dress rehearsal for the aforementioned musical, I would report on this myself. Since I am otherwise booked- New York law- , I’m hoping someone out there in the internetland will see this show for me. I bet you’ll get a laugh out of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was the rule?

Tickets here.


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