Deborah Claire Procter is a performer & multi-media artist from Cardiff (Wales) who founded Clear Insight Productions. Her masters degree is in Fine Art from University of Wales, Cardiff, and her bachelors is in theatre from Exeter University. In 2005 she received the Creative Wales Award. Her solo multi-media performances have been shown in various theatres and galleries galleries such as The Ferens (Hull), Spacex (Exeter), Hemsley (Madison), and Museum Theatre (Madras). In 2004 she received a research grant from Wales Arts International to visit Argentina and began training with Oscar Edelstein to make vocals for different theatre productions such as Insanas (2006) by Silvia Pritz, and Oscar Edelstein's productions such as El Caballo Fantasma (2011), La Carta Imaginaria (2014) and Viaje a la Catedral de Santa Mónica de los Venados (2019) which was the first performative use of the "Sala Cristal Sónico" (Crystal Sonic Room) developed by Oscar Edelstein in a multi award winning project with Manuel Eguia at the Universidad de Quilmes (Argentina).
As a guest artist of the group Ensamble Nacional del Sur de Edelstein, she has sang in concert at the Teatro General San Martín, Casa de la Cultura del Fondo Nacional de las Artes, Centro Nacional de la Música, Centro Cultural Kirchner, La Trastienda, Cafe Vinilo (Buenos Aires); Teatro Argentino (La Plata); Auditorio del CePIA, Facultad de Artes (Córdoba); Teatro Municipal Tres de Febrero (Paraná, Entre Ríos) Musikene (San Sebastian) amongst many others.
Procter is regularly invited to give talks on communication, creativity and culture, and since 2012 is a member of the prestigious RSA (Royal Society of the Arts) - an organisation with it's base in London that can boast members including Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, David Attenborough, Judi Dench, William Hogarth, and Tim Berners-Lee with fellows elected from 80 countries worldwide.
“To the singer Procter it is only necessary to be grateful to her for the opportunity the audience celebrated of re-discovering the incomparable and inimitable singularity of the beauty of the human voice. Her intervention [...] was simply dazzling for the technical solvency in the range and her versatility in having intervened in a work that demands superlative competences in order to translate the complex interior world that it expresses.”
— Carlos Marín, EL DIARIO
A concept that Procter refers to as an artist is that of anthropologist Victor Turner who talked about "communitas" - the ability and power of culture to link people.
Turner used the term to describe that often rare and transient personal experience of togetherness.
Turner was drawing upon Van-Gennep's triadic model of the Rite of Passage. Van-Gennep identified rites of passage rituals as being divided into three phases: preliminary, liminaire (liminality) (which was the stage that Turner studied), and postliminaire (post-liminality).
Procter refers to it in her practice as an artist with the premise that art and culture serve to make us look and look again.
Arnold van Gennep (23 April 1873 – 7 May 1957) was a noted Dutch-German-French ethnographer and folklorist. He is best known for his work regarding rites of passage ceremonies and his significant works in modern French folklore. He is recognized as the founder of folklore studies in France.
Behind the work of Deborah Claire Procter is a strong interest in different movement form and also in improvisation.
Procter was selected in 2003 for a two week process of training and experimentation for Welsh Independent Dance’s “Dance Bytes for Camera” in 2003
As part of a team she was mentored by Dan O’Neill, founder member of the award-winning Featherstonehaughs, who performed with many other leading dance companies, including DV8, Second Stride, and Toronto Dance Theatre, and is a choreographer and film-maker.
Procter has received training from Gardzienice Theatre Associationin Poland as part of working on a performance with Theatre Alibi, and also extensively trained in Body Weather, Skinner Release Technique, and the India martial art Kalaripayattu.
Interviewed by Aekta Kapoor of eShe which serves as a platform for women's leadership and as an advocate for peace in South Asia.
“...the formidable Welsh singer Deborah Claire Procter (her voice acting as an instrument)...the ensemble accompanies an incredible intervention of Procter, a singer that is a sort of cross between Cathy Berberian and the free jazz vocalist Lauren Newton.“
— Jorge Garcia, EL AMANTE
Procter founded Clear Insight Productions with the vision to make high quality complex cultural projects available to a wide range of people.
Her core belief is that the skills of creativity, inventiveness and imagination can naturally make for happier and more fulfilled lives - more importantly culture brings new ways of being, doing and knowing.
The founding statement is that:
Clear Insight Productions makes theatre, opera, film, music and dance productions that present the opportunity to find wider perspectives and new ways of seeing the world. We develop artistic ventures that create a sense of community, history and shared vision, often offering communities and individuals the chance to participate, as well as witness. Clear Insight has a growing team of collaborators throughout the world who are interested in the role of the arts in creating change.
Mae Gweledigaeth Glir yn gwneud cynyrchiadau theatr, opera, ffilm, cerddoriaeth a dawns sy'n cyflwyno'r cyfle i ddarganfod safbwyntiau ehangach a ffyrdd newydd o edrych ar y byd. Rydym yn datblygu mentrau artistig sy'n creu naws o gymuned, hanes a gweledigaeth a rennir, yn aml yn cynnig cyfle i gymunedau ac unigolion gyfranogi, yn ogystal â gweld. Mae gan Clear Insight dîm o gydweithwyr sy'n ehangu ac yn fyd-eang a gyda diddordeb yn y modd y gall y celfyddydau greu newid.
Research projects & Work in Progress
Clear Insight Productions as a project funded independent company has various projects in different stages of development.
Deborah Claire Procter has received funding from Arts Council of Wales, Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Aberystwyth Town Council, Wales Arts International, and Welsh Independent Dance.
The following projects are recent examples:
Clockhouse (2012 - )
- One point that contains all / Un punto que lo contiene todo / Un pwynt sydd yn cynnwys oll -
A small house | An intimate performance
I was inspired by a quote from poet Sanders Lewis saying that he wrote his poem, "In praise of un-inhabited places" and to "houses of leaf not of wood, stone or nobility." Beginning with this quote and a long held fascination with the line between land and sea at Aberystwyth Harbour, and how we notice our landscape, I began working on a project called "Look You Hear Now" in 2011. In May 2012 I was lucky enough to succeed in receiving an Arts Council of Wales 'Small Project Grant". This allowed me to develop the idea working with composer Oscar Edelstein significantly developed and elaborated the themes, connecting strongly with ideas of home and the stories of people who have to, or choose to leave. If it all has to fit in one bag, what do you take with you? Your language? Your culture? Your skills? Your recipes? Your music? D.C.Procter
Working together with composer Oscar Edelstein, the initial ideas were developed into a structure conceived by Edelstein as a cycle in a spiral of seven parts.
1) The Arrival
2) A Bottle in the Sea
3) My Kingdom for a Horse that Talks
4) In another land Gaucha (Patagonia)
5) We Have to Jump
6) A Ghost Haunts Europe
7) You Have to Leave
Funded by Arts Council of Wales / Aberystwyth Town Council
A Horse Bleeding Shakespeare (2010)
"We were a people bred on legends." R. S. Thomas
"How to capture the sense of the landscape? What is Wales today? How do you make a song of a space or a portrait of a landscape? Those curving roads? That ever-turning land? Thick green. A seasickness of hills - Swelling, swaying, seducing." D.C. Procter
Theatre, music, dance, and video blend in a new opera about our sense of place and sense of national identity.
Performer and director, Deborah Claire Procter (2005 winner of the Creative Wales Award), researched and developed some of these themes, spending a period of time in Tregaron & Uplands, near the Pafiliwn performance space in the midst of magic West Wales. Part of the research involved visiting Tregaron Male Voice choir who meet once a week, singing in Welsh. As well as spending an afternoon at Carreg Dressage to experiment with Jane Lloyd-Francis who has produced many live performances with actors and performers; and with performer, Rebecca Woodford-Smith who is a full time lecturer in Theatre and Performance at Glyndŵr University and has worked many times with Japanese experimental theatre company Gekidan Kaitaisha (Theatre of Destruction).
The new work has developed into the idea of the creation of an opera which will be written by composer Oscar Edelstein (Argentina). together with Procter. The work will be a trilogy to be performed in Wales and Argentina as a recognition of the historical and emotional connections between the two countries.
In May 2010, Procter and Edelstein worked together with dancer and choreographer, Sean Feldman (choreographer and former dancer with Siobhan Davies), and performer-director, Jane Lloyd-Francis (co-director of Carreg Dressage, performer and founder of Equilibre Horse Theatre). After a few days of research and rehearsal at Carreg, they video-ed on Ynyslas beach, accompanied by Georges Dewez (Carreg Dressage).
Funded by Arts Council of Wales
Rivers and Mirrors: Part I (2007)
A piano recital by Oscar Edelstein with video and vocals by Deborah Claire Procter, based on the idea "to be in the mirror or to cross the river?" The video was made in Buenos Aires in the former national library where Borges once worked.
The dancer Sandra Grinberg, from the Trisha Brown Dance Company was invited to Buenos Aires to work with Procter to create a choreography for the video. The images move from a grey industrial building with an atmosphere of destruction, to an architecturally magnificent building that is only glimpsed through the mirror that the dancer, Grinberg, manipulates.
Funded by Arts Council of Wales / Wales Arts International
“...concentration of the material and a distinctive sound... the strange dialect that the beautiful voice of Procter articulates, that seems to border on an articulated language, with the effect of the almost figurative swarming of these tiny words, more than with Pollock, the music of the ENS seems to connect with certain landscapes of [Argentinean] artist Stupía.”
— Federico Monjeau, LA NACIÓN
The choreography of Trisha Brown is famous for her exploration between the lines of trained and untrained movement, combining the pedestrian and every day with technique.
Sally Banes outlined in "Terpsichore in Sneakers" this new post modern thinking where virtuosity for virtuosities sake was questioned. Pedestrian movements such as walking or falling were seen as equally relevant in a choreography as would be a jeté or arabesque. The important shapers of this new approach to dance were Judson Dance Theatre, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, David Gordon, Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs, Meredith Monk, Kenneth King, Douglas Dunn and The Grand Union. Each one found their own manifesto in order to move through and beyond the restrictions of classical technique, and choreographers like Brown took to exploration of alternative performance spaces.
These researches were in the back of the mind of Procter whilst working with Sandra Grinberg.
Yn dathlu symudiad cyso | A celebration of constant motion
"Seapiece" was a four hour long site-specific performance devised and directed by Procter in 2002. Over 25 performers gathered on the seawall in Aberystwyth in a structure directed by Deborah Claire Procter with performers from Equilibre Horse Theatre (Jane Lloyd-Francis); Dance India Wales (Kiran Ratna & Megan Lloyd), Gorwellion community group; Katak dancer, Vikram Ivengar; Stuart Bowden (Diversions Dance Company); Performer, Martial Artist & Taiwanese folk dancer, Su Chu Lu; Contemporary dancers, Sarah Mumford & Jan Davis; and participants from the Centre for Performance Research Summer School, directed by Richard Gough.
Funded by Arts Council of Wales / Wales Council for Voluntary Action / Ceredigion County Council.
Site specific inspiration
Companies like Welfare State International were pioneers in taking theatre out of building and into new contexts. They were a fascinating collective of radical artists and thinkers who explored ideas of celebratory art and spectacle between 1968 and 2006. Their book 'Engineers of the Imagination', was their Handbook and was used to help spread their ideas and techniques worldwide.
Part of the company philosophy was put into the following statement in 1999.
“Welfare State International is a company of artists who pioneer new approaches to the arts of celebration and ceremony in the U.K. and internationally.
We are seeking a culture which may well be less materially based but where more people will actively participate and gain power to celebrate moments that are wonderful and significant in their lives.
We advocate a role for art that weaves it more fully into the fabric of our lives; that allows us to be collaborators rather than spectators:
Building our own houses, naming our children, burying our dead, announcing partnerships, marking anniversaries, creating new sacred spaces and producing whatever drama, stories, songs, ceremonies, pageants and jokes that are relevant to these new values and iconography.
We design and construct performances that are specific to place, people and occasion.
The simple and heart-felt dreams of Deborah Claire Procter as an artist can be found deeply rooted in the belief in the power of arts and culture to transform society and offer alternatives.
The approach to performance is taking the idea of the "play-wright" being a person who engages manually and physically to construct a performance, just as much as the imaginative and mental process of "writing." Like a "wheel-wright" or a "ship-wright", a "wrighter" of performance draws on many construction processes that border on many art forms.
Inspirations in this line come from the legacies of companies like Welfare State International; director Peter Brook; play-wright Samuel Beckett and his working relationship with actress Billie Whitelaw, and the grand-fathers of these freedoms from convention that began with the wild musings of Antonin Artaud, and the political passions of Bertolt Brecht.
From other art forms, one would think of Joseph Beuys for his connection to un-usual materials, and performance artist Bobby Baker for her skill at manipulating every day objects in an intriguing narrative and conceptual way.
In this journey to the source it is hard not to also pay tribute to the choreographer Pina Bausch for her expertise in walking a line between the theatrical and the classical; and then of course choreographer Trisha Brown for her understanding of the lines between the trained and un-trained body.
The concept behind much of Procter's work is the search for new bridges between different worlds. With strong roots in Wales, Porcter has new extensive links to Argentina following her first visit in 2003 with artist Angharad Taris, through the support of Wales Arts International.
The particular surprise for Taris of hearing her mother-tongue and first language - a minority language - being spoken 13,000 kilometres from home is something that takes time to emotionally assimilate.
In this way Procter is interested in working between the local, the national and the international; balancing the human drives of retreat and extension, and exploring the questions of identity that this generates.
© 2009 Deborah Claire Procter