Back to reality

November 20, 2009

The basics, understood and reckognized again and again as if new to me:

a) sitting at the office from 9 to 5  is still the most ineffective way of working

b) I am very bad at tolerating careless management.

The results:

BAD: I quit my job three weeks ago

GOOD: I will start assisting an art project in a prestigeous sculpture studio, I will set up lights for a dance festival next week and soon have a gig with the New York University in Prague for the light design of their yearly play.

VERY GOOD: I have a good script and a good team to start on an excellent theatre project. I might eventually score my MA degree with this.

Life is great.



August 17, 2009

I don’t know how to summon up my two semesters in Prague. I wrote a couple of pages for my school, saying good and bad things about the courses. Personally, I don’t have anything more to say than I have already said here. The highlights were the two projects I made, of which I am really proud. The drawing class was really educating. I didn´t meet too many local friends, all Erasmus people moved back home and I´m now alone in Prague. I think I will just say that it was a good experience and put it behind me, no further analysis.

Meanwhile, I became a working person and signed a contract with an architectural office called Lumidée. I am now officially a junior designer and am supposed to specialize specifically in the products of an Italian company called Viabizzuno. Co-operation in a czech-speaking environment  (where nobody really speaks English) with the Italians sounds like a lot of fun and

This has made my life quite complicated as waking up early each morning is not something I am used to do, and blogging is sometimes too big of an effort to manage.  During my lunch breaks and evening chillout surfing sessions I am able to be active in the shortest online communication format of tweets, updating my ideas at http://twitter.com/johannamai, you are welcome to follow me there.


Group vibes are good

June 17, 2009

Merdre! turned out good, better than I ever expected. It all started when Ingrid and Julie asked me to help with their spring term project. They had a new tutor who let them divide into groups for individual work and somehow didn’t mind, that all the british students formed one group and the two french girls formed another. The german chick tried to work with the brits, but gave up eventually when it became too much of an inside thing with all the other participants, working, studying, sleeping and eating together.

Anyway, Erasmus is supposed to be about bounding and making new friends, so the french girls thought that I would bring something from the outside to their friendly little idea of doing King Ubu from the perspective of food. Food meaning power – when you eat, you are happy, the one that feeds you, has power over you.

We flipped it to the modern utopia of a restaurant, where the customer imagines himself to be the one in power. And so it all started. Ubu is a puppet, the stomach of the actor playing restaurant customer. All the characters he sweeps off his way, are made of food. Because of his hunger, Ubu destroys the delicious King Wenceslas and unexpectedly becomes King, continuing to gobble up the people and the nobility of his new kingdom. On the other side, the waitress has Ma Ubu on her stomach, encouraging Ubu to eat more and more, advancing through the evil plots of ruling the world. In the end, the revengeous prince Bougrelas got Ubu drunk of the Armagnac and made him leave without paying the bill. Merdre!

I really have to say I enjoyed the little group of ours. I think Ingrid and Julie are awfully smart people and they can do miracles on stage. It was an honor to see them work and react to every comment I made. Because of the lack of interest the acting tutor showed towards our project, I had the opportunity to really get into the creation process and direct a bit. A lot. Oh well, who am I kidding. It was a full-time group project with them on stage and me in the audience. And I liked every second of it.

They want to continue playing Merdre! in Bordeaux. I am a bit worried about the foam puppets that really have to be washed after every single performance (but the contrast between the clean, draped restaurant atmosphere and the whipped cream and carrot sauce flying around everywhere is such a wonderful part of it). All the food is real (red wine, cucumber jelly, chicken and carrots, tartailettes and coffee), also the dishes are first class Tesco quality. It’s a mess to prepare and dangerous to play (they broke three dishes during rehearsals), but plastic glasses just wouldn’t work that well.

An important thing I learned from this process, is that in stage design, most important is the industrial design part. Things might look nice, but if they don’t work or even bother, it is just awful. We made a lot of changes to the puppets during rehearsals to make them work and function more comfortably and tried several plates and dishes before ending up with the best ones.

Previously, I have often had a feeling of not being welcome at a rehearsal or that my tiny pleas of having a technical rehearsal somehow bothers people. With this small group we had lots and lots of tech rehearsals and fixed the sound and light cues perfectly. We even had some really elaborate choreography scenes set to difficult and punctual off-beat (or maybe something like 7/8 beat or who knows) music clips and the girls perfected them to excellence.

I am amazed of our synergy and now look at the theatre world in much more blue eyes than before – it is not all that bad and not everyone always hates you. I think I’ve also grown up a lot. I’m not evil to other people anymore either. It’s an excellent feeling, you know :)



May 26, 2009

MERDRE! had a very, very, very successful premiere on Monday. We got six or seven curtain calls and a lot of hugs, kisses and thankyous. There will be one more performance in Prague, that is next Monday, 01.06.09 at 18.00, in DAMU, Retizek.

Dramatic black and white pictures from the premiere by Vojta Taraba, colours from the dress rehearsal the day before by Sébastian Viales.


The progress in painting

May 25, 2009

It’s suddenly the end of semester again. Exams, demos and stuff. Today, I present the more successfully stained papers I have made during the spring. Sorry about the wavy backgrounds, we don’t have any real paper for painting.


This is where I started from. It’s a scribble with with the wrong end of the brush because I felt I couldn’t use the right one anymore. I was thinking this was a disaster until I discussed my work with the teacher at the exam. From my semester’s paintings, this is the only one that has any expression, individual approach or interpretation in it. Later, I have been drifting towards the photo realism that I really hate, trying to be a good student and put down the anatomy, shadows and highlights as they are. Ugh.

sinine_tydrukShe turned out a little blue, but otherwise I like it. My first try to approach the use of colours in a sensible way, thinking first and then getting the brush. The classmates said, that there is a certain Scandinavian style or touch in the colouring. Haha.

t2di_s8egaA drawing, for a change. Nothing special.

paljas_t2diAnd the same lady nude from the next week. Shiny orange!

pohmaonuI know what you are all thinking. Yes, I also think he had a hangover. Really. But it was fun to paint, with the red nose and all. They took this for the semester exhibition.

sarim6rvar_baretigaThis guy is actually a third year student, I think. The first-graders somehow pissed off the old lady that was supposed to model and then the teacher made him sit there for 1,5 hours. A short time, hence just the portrait. And he DOES look like an axe murderer in real life, too. No artistic exaggeration. I’m quite proud of myself, having achieved the actual likeness, the distinctive angle of eyes and all.

There’s two that are so bad I don’t post them. I’m not a natural born painter and sometimes don’t have the patience. Oh the patience…



May 19, 2009

It’s been a long time of nothing really happening. Now something new has come up. “MERDRE” is the second semester Erasmus project that I designed. It will have a premiere next Monday in Retizek at DAMU, performed as a tandem with another group of students performing “Encased”. As all good things, the performance has no entrance fee.

“MERDRE” is a puppet/object piece based on Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry. It is performed in French, but can also be understood by audiences of other languages. I have contributed with the set design, lights and some primitive sound cues. As we didn’t get much support from the school (it is fair to say our tutor was quite inapt), there is a lot of me in the directing also (which I find to be a great experience). Despite all problems the rehearsals are going great and we make a great team of three with Ingrid and Julie.  Performance photos coming up next week!




March 31, 2009

I’m off towards Frankfurt in the morning. Prolight might be fun and I get to see my relatives who live in Steinau an der Strasse. And there’s weissbier in Germany, of course. Here‘s a chicken dinner recommendation I am going to visit during my stay.

If anyone else is around, you may call me, there’s a contact number on my website. I’m staying until Saturday.