Article by Courtney Kenyon (AL/DD Marketing/ Development Intern)
When Anabella Lenzu began this process in March of 2014 after the passing of her father, she had no idea what the end result was going to be, or what the product was going to become. Anabella began to ask herself how she was going to get to the heart of what she was feeling. So she began to write, and reminisce. With the material Anabella was able to come up with, there could be four or five more shows to include everything.
The creative process is quite different from the grieving process, however there are times where we find that they intertwine. When Anabella began working on this piece the two were tightly connected. The show was therapeutic. She began writing down stories, some important with strong moral endings, some bittersweet or light hearted. She wrote anything and everything even if it was painful, because this was what she wanted to give to her dad. As the process continued however, Anabella found that the two were no longer connected. Though she creates for herself because she needs to feel it, the work is not just about her, but it’s about anyone who has suffered loss. The show became less therapeutic and Anabella soon approached it technically. As she worked, the piece became about generosity. She became aware that there would be people watching the piece and wanted to give them a way to cope with something they might be going through personally.
Anabella and I spoke of the short time she lived in Italy between 2002 and 2005. She remembers the mourning dances. These were rituals that dated all the way back to Ancient Greece. Female dancers or actors of sorts would come and dance around the home of a family who had just lost someone, similar to an exorcism. They would try and cure the family’s grief by helping them to understand life and death. In Pursuit of Happiness has become Anabella’s own contemporary mourning dance, and she has really enjoyed exploring ‘the function of dance as a ritual’ the way it was used in ancient Italy and Greece.
Another therapeutic piece of this endeavor was the music. The tracking for the show is comprised of some of Anabella’s father’s favorite songs, environmental sounds, and a few other special sounds. One of the special sounds you will hear in the performance is a short song that Anabella’s father taught to her when she was just a young girl that you will hear a recording of her trying to teach it to Lauren, her dancer. Another special soundbite you might catch is the sound of her father’s printing press. Anabella was able to travel to Argentina and record the many sounds of her father’s shop. So what you hear is not just a door shutting, it is the door of his shop shutting, and it’s his printing press, and it’s his paper running through the machines. It gives the piece a much more authentic feel. It was a very ‘tangible way to document his printing in the show’.
Make sure you come see In Pursuit of Happiness Friday October 23-Sunday October 25 (8pm shows) at the Alchemical Theater in NYC. Limited seating! You can purchase your tickets online. https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/951784