emoji summary: 🌖 〰 🔩
So before i was away in December i did a theatre thing with a friend of mine; like a ‘i was making work w her and she is a theatre bod nd the work was in a theatre’ thing. and while we were working together i realised how little i knew about the conversations theatre people have about theatre - - - these insider convos, that specific language that knows what question to ask and what concerns to have;;;; all about framing and the chat around it, u kno u kno. i spent a lot of time picking my friend’s brain n asking her what she meant when i didn’t understand. like,,,, she knows a lot - but most relevantly she explained about liminal/liminoid space in the context of theatre.
i remember this conversation well:
we were talking bout suspension of disbelief n how it’s kinda bogus. like there is a mutual suspension of disbelief where actor and audience both agree that the exchange isn’t real and u enter into something ~~~~liminal (idk) where u r able to hold things up that exist in the real world. u can prod them poke them n make them jiggle under ur lil 🔎 view and unpack things that perhaps wouldn’t or couldn’t happen IRL. a nice sanitary (ish) environment (sanitary but not contextless,,, not the white cube again god not again pleASE) sanitary in the sense that like;;; u r not confined perhaps in the usual way. u could take a shit on the floor ~theatre~ that kinda sense. does that make sense? i am unsure. idk it kinda grabbed me; this idea of a mutual exchange, an unpacking, the sticky sticky liminal. like the way the OA made me feel. wild and fantastical and almost laughable but not wrong?
I went to this performance on friday; Dawn Breaks by Jewyo Rhii and Jihyun Jung @ The Showroom. a performance to close the show of the same name. a nice gentle theatricality. a book gently shut and a round of applause. i appreciate that as a thing; i would like to lean more into closing parties than opening parties tbh.
When we walked in for the performance, the lights were up n bright. there was a collection of strange objects,,, sculptures,,, NO not rly sculptures, more OBJECTS,,,, all cobbled together. like a big budget B&Q job - ahh, but that is so reductive. they were very ~i got a long receipt from the hardware shop so i could make this~, but also they were spindly and beautiful. This eclectic thing was happening, i didn’t understand it, but i am always in awe of ppl who make things like this. ppl who have a sense of spatial balance, the ability to make sculptural things that look beautiful and alien and strange but out of only things we already know n recognise as things. the instinctive magic of transformation~~ what a skill, like ppl who dress rly well;;; that is so far from my skill set lmao. i appreciate it thoroughly. n then clunky crunchy the lights flickered off n the space was lit by these strange beautiful spindly sculptures. Very dramatic these actors came out from the audience where they’d been standing n delivered lines, dramatic, heavy with implication n tone moderated. they were talking about their lives, their fathers, their cats, how much they loved coffee. This felt unstable. performance as reading a script, a script that was cobbled together in the same way as the sculptures in the room - wish mashed, but like…. not, bc that implies an unconsidered messiness. mish mashed with incredible skill and care and incredibly well balanced. with incredible aesthetic sensibility~~~` (fuck, <—- that) a meandering script pulling together the disparate and the mundane,,,,, banal but still doing something worthwhile n exciting in itself as a format. All alongside the script and the actors,,, they were acting alongside/parallel to/or maybe actually acting through? the spindly objects.
i mean what i said when i said theatrical. i want that word to carry weight in this text. it was a heavy purposeful kind of drama. drama with a specific value and weight. the theatricality was less in what was said and more in the way these objects and systems of handling these objects were forefronted; as parallel, or as conduit to the words, the narration by these multiple narrators. I think if i am being honest with myself; the actual script was not as important to me and also if i had come when there wasn’t some kind of performance - just dropped in on any tuesday - this would have gone over my head. i am glad for seeing it with a theatrical spotlight. i am glad i saw them in motion. bc the performance made everything very very transparent. there was no dramatic entrance. the performers were just milling around in the space, setting up preparing. n then the lights went low n the space was lit by all these strange objects and all of a sudden we had clunkily slipped into performing. all of us at once, plunged into it. i thought i would hate that lack of slickness, but tbh i think i liked it all the more for it. it felt sticky and purposeful - like a nice reminder of what was there before and also a panto point towards what was happening now. Like i feel like i was gently guided through this performance; a strong and firm hand on my back pushing me along as the play unfolded. i was gently prompted with what to look at and what to consider as foreground; through these objects, their intermittent light and graceful movement on and off stage (stage as the middle of the room)
through these objects, these actors and this specific collection of weighted movements of both actor and object,,,,,, i FELT~ what my friend was telling me about theatre as the sticky liminal,,, actor & audience (actor audience object) liminal beings both, all step in one foot into the doormat and we all silently agree that these actions have meaning and weight,,, and we all agree to consider them as valuable. the value of these objects as evenly balanced in the act of driving narrative? the value of collective making/making collectively - writing - storytelling? narrative as bubbling liquid, rolling boil? i am not sure. this was all very hazy and i was only lost in the sauce of it all (happily lost, pleasantly lost). Right at the end of the show; as a final movement or act, these machines on a shelf up in the ceiling released all these orange ping pong balls and they all came cascading down into the middle of the room; bouncing up and hitting the wall, rolling and clacking. i feel like that was the level of this performance. rough spectacle - spotlight on action n object. sticky objects rolling boil.
PS: i didn't know how to work this into the review bc it wasn't really a thing i noticed till i read the press release, but all the actors were locals who lived in the neighbourhood near The Showroom. It was a very social work; but also, not a THing. Just a way or mode of making that felt more generous n leaned into collectivity. I didn't wana shout about it in the review, but i would like to mention it n how i think it def influenced the liquid feeling of narrative etc.