June 18, 2014
Eliza Ryan has acted, written, choreographed, and created theater and films in Boston, DC, and New York. She has taught for The New York Film Academy at Harvard and in New York, and she has guest taught at Boston University and Columbia. She has been a company member with Blessed Unrest, The Movement Workshop Group, Way Theater Artists, and The Stanislavsky Theater Studio.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
Your Name: Eliza Ryan
Where you live: Boston MA
Your Medium: Acting
The name of your work: Yes and No
Without going back to the art I sent you what do you remember about it?
I remember that it felt like a lie. It had this sweetness on the outside but it was musky on the inside. I felt like I wanted to be enveloped in the sensuality of it but that the sweetness shut me out.
What was your first reaction to the art? (Thoughts, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?)
My first thought was the image of a woman in a black fur coat & glasses. She’s this perfect put together French Parisian and her name is Yvonne.
She has a strong face. She is cold, enticing a little bored but fascinating and silent. At the same time I also saw this American mom with sneakers on named Sarah. She’s 36, married and a stay home mom with 2 children. She doesn’t look into people’s eyes directly. Her face is like a mask. Her cheeks are lifted but inside she is exhausted, drained, empty, blank and crying though she doesn’t know it.
If you had to choose one word to sum up the art I sent what would it be?
What emotion did it elicit?
Sadness and longing
What was the art about in your mind? (Did it tell a story? Paint a picture? Etc.)
The story that evolved from the fragrance was that this housewife, Sarah is in this park remembering an experience she’d had when she was ten, sitting in a meeting with a social worker. At the time she’d said nothing. There had been some inappropriate encounter with a male teacher and she was brought in to discuss it. At the time she’d had so much guilt and shame. The truth is that she still longed to be with the teacher. In her mental recreation of the social worker meeting, Sarah is imagining what a stronger version of her 10 year old self would’ve said and done. This is where Yvonne comes in. She is the embodiment of the stronger 10-year-old Sarah. In the recollection, Yvonne is 10 year old Sarah’s protector and defense against the shame.
Take me through each step of your process from getting the art to the creation of your work.
I smelled it.
I wore it around my neck and smelled it while I was walking or running and I kept thinking about it.
I kept on asking “should I write it yet?” and I kept getting a “no” I kept playing with things in my head and body. What would it feel like to be inside the body or the mind of Sarah… of Yvonne? To be in that longing and confusion.
Then the other night the writing was ready. I didn’t know the story line until I put it down on the page. It’s really about the confusion a young person goes through being interested in sex and their sexuality but not knowing the difference between physical and sexual maturity. As a young person it’s easy to see sex as a way to procure power. It’s confusing to have sexual impulses and a society that tells you it’s shameful to exercise them.
What part of your work came to you first?
The fragrance sat in my body like a plug in my forehead.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation?
I felt this tension in the perfume. To me that tension is Sarah and Yvonne. By themselves they would be boring but it’s the tension of them both existing (like the sweet and the musky) that creates the danger.