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Sylvia Toy

Memory Exercise, a study for Indigo Lady

301 views 1 year ago
Indigo Lady, a short film about a fictional murder named Indigo Milazzo, goes into production this month, and stars Sapna Gandhi as Indigo, Diana Slampyak and Rebecca Longworth, with Sylvia Toy as the ghost of Flavia Milazzo. The art direction is by Tyler Cohen.

Composition: "performance art videos - silent montages exploring the performance of simple acts in familiar, stripped down settings - formalistic presentation, multiple sensory and emotional layers." possible settings: Violet Milazzo's sewing room, Flavia Milazzo's house, a gazebo (for Violet), an empty diner on the highway (the husband/murder victim's mistress), a prison visitation room (Indigo), a small empty Catholic Church (Violet), a barn (Indigo), a coffin or under weathered floorboards for the Great Great Grandmother, Flavia, etc. The settings will all be based on Tyler's drawings. Each of the "living" characters will be interviewed about the murder by a reporter.

"Indigo Lady" will be about 50-70 minutes long, divided into scenes that all begin with a drawing and dissolve into a scene complete with actors, props, etc. - it is likely that the actors playing the action scenes will speaking extras, one of whom would be a "doppelganger" of the main character that the scene was about (i.e., Indigo's husband-to-be telling his mistress that he is getting married; the murder scene, inter alia).

while the presentation is very formalistic, each one of a character's beats will involve a main frame monologue completely improvised by the actor based on the story facts and a memory/sensory/emotional secondary monologue. this will definitely be a chance to 'knock yourself out' as an actor.

once i have clips of the main characters' monologues, and a "drawing come to life" action clip, i will make a trailer and begin soliciting funding. Show less
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Screen vs. Wall: Films by Sylvia Toy Play

Realizing the inevitability of the direction of my path - i.e., that it is likely the only shorts coming from me in the 30 years I have left will be scenes from the movies I make as I make them, and that may put me outside video art - I have been thinking a lot about the difference between video art and cinema, both in general and in particular as it pertains to, defines and describes my own work.

I have thought - and heard myself saying a lot - that it was inevitable I would make longer (40-minutes plus) movies because I was a playwright. That's probably just silly: I am a FAILED playwright, number one, and wrote plays so I could act them, number two; and number three, big number three: my movie projects begin when the filmmaker Sylvia Toy turns on, focuses, and white balances the camera, and the actor Nena St. Louis starts talking and going into a new narrator-character in front of the camera.

I make cinema because I can't help making story, not because I studied playwriting for 10 years. Making story is easier because I have a solid foundation, but that is not why I do it.

The pen IS mightier than the sword, but so is the camera, and so is the spoken word. And because of the improved hand/eye dexterity my brain has now after making video art for 6 years, I finally have visual design skills, which makes my cinematic shots better, more interesting, more fun for the viewer, and better storytelling.

Movie directors have to kill their darlings. Visual artists cannot.

Plays by Nena St. Louis (Playwright, 1990-2007) Play

Performance art, live that is, is an acquired taste. As a theatre artist, I was not evangelical about getting my work out there (well, maybe in 1994), trying to make converts. I chose solo performance for the same reason that I was a paralegal instead of an art teacher or living off grants: if I got money in a part of the world where I couldn't really even talk about what I did as an artist, I was isolated but I was free. It's okay for people to tell me how I might do whatever it is better, but not how or WHAT to do. I did not want to be beholden to anyone - I would rather be at the end of the pecking order and get nothing than be beholden to anyone.

I also thought it would make me feel polluted to make art any other way than the way that I saw it inside my head. That's why I have never cared for my play SCHOOLS except for two factors of acting that play.

One is easy: playing 20 characters was showing off as well as a great acting exercise for me, especially since playing the main character of my mother, was playing way way way way against type for me. I was taught at a young age by someone, maybe my father, that if I wasn't stretching, I wasn't working hard enough. Besides, people who thought I sucked stopped saying that out loud enough that it got back to me after SCHOOLS.

The second factor is not easy, and not easy to make clear. Telling the truth is my own most basic rule as an artist - if I catch myself telling not the truth, the sculpture goes in the dumpster, the play literally gets cut up and sorted into good stuff, maybe stuff and trash, and the video gets erased or put on the shelf until the rest of the truth shows up (no matter how long that takes). Telling the truth is as searing as a knife that's red hot. Talking about race is neither red hot nor pointed for me; it's room temperature and definitely dull as a knife that you cut meatloaf with.

SCHOOLS was only interesting for me and justifiable for getting paid to do it without feeling like a whore because I made my bigger-than-life mother the main character, not because I got to talk about all the rotten things white people and America have done to me blah blah blah.

I care about holding my own in society as a person who has adapted well enough to earn most of my money in a part of society that might as well be foreign country to me (the American legal industry). I care about being able turning myself into a human being in spite of struggling with bipolar disorder since I was a toddler. I care about having been a professional artist (read: exhibited, produced, paid). I care most about being in charge of my own self and my own life, and I would rather be alone and isolated, or dead if necessary, than not to be in charge of myself.

I check my "stats" several times a day. It gives me no small amount of sheer joy that so far, the most-watched videos of my old live theatre shows that I've put up on Vimeo in the past couple of weeks are ESSAYS ON ANGER AND CUSTARD PIE and JUMP, not SCHOOLS. That fact is meaningless to anyone who doesn't know me pretty damn well, I know. But it gives ME no end of satisfaction. NO end.

Done. Really done - "consider my ass retired."

Nena St. Louis, Sculptor (1982-2010) Play

I have always had a day job. For 25 years, I regularly made, exhibited and sold sculpture. During that time, I also toured as a solo theater artist, founded a theater company and had about 15 plays produced. Since 2006, I have been a video artist as "sylvia toy." Artists are good mentors when they show by example that art is a 24/7 emotional commitment that has to be cultivated and earning a paycheck in a field that is not your bliss does not prevent you from being an artist.

In 2010 I developed one of those deadly allergies to sawdust from which the only going back you're going to do is in a Hazmat suit - it was my own, personal environmental disaster, as woodcarving was my best friend and I became quite bereaved. Woodcarving was not just about expressing myself, asserting myself as an artist - it was my anchor, it was the way that I learned to reach a meditative state, and it was my backup when I started to look my affect in the eye. That staredown will never end, but everything being a sculptor taught me will always be with me. Hemingway: "Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it - don't cheat with it."
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