Thursday, October 21
To me the most striking things about Gary Winters' and Gregg Whelan's "Walk With Me, Walk With Me, Will Somebody Please Walk With Me" were the rhythm of speech and how closely that rhythm and the narrative resembled the mind's wanderings during a long journey on foot: mundane to emotional to quirky to exuberant and back again and again. Together with the beauty of Winters' and Whelan's voices, the performance resembled a song cycle. While not an audience participation piece, the audience reaction to the performers' words must resemble the reactions of the people Lone Twin encounter on the walks that are onscreen in the background: engrossed or weirded out or attracted or uninterested or surprised or dismissive or fascinated or uncomfortable or laughing and more, for as long as the walk lasts.
Lone Twin (Thursday Nite)
I knew nothing about Lone Twin when I walked into the theater last night. Hadnít read any of OTBís publicity material or the local press, hadnít heard of any of LTís past exploits. And either because of this or the nature of the show itself, I spent the first 15 minutes (a big chunk of time for an hour long show) perplexed. And not the good kind of perplexed, the bad kind. The kind where you say to yourself, "God damn it, another performance piece that Iím not enjoying and Iím feeling vaguely guilty/stupid for not enjoying it." It felt like arriving at a strange airport after a ten hour flight: youíre tired and anxious and not sure whether to spend too much on a taxi or try to figure out the local bus system with your very limited knowledge of the local language. (Youíll see in a moment why Iím using a travelling metaphor.)
And then, not suddenly but gradually, the substance and meaning of the show emerged for me. It was, after all, about two of my favorite activities: travelling and walking.
The evening itself consists of Lone Twin (The charming duo of Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters) using anecdotes, movement, video and random souvenirs to explain and illustrate (in a very, very round-about way) some of their past performance pieces. The work in question involves such activities as walking for 18 Ĺ hours back and forth along twin bridges in Norway, pushing their body weight in water from the bottom of Lisbon to the top of Lisbon, and dragging a telegraph pole in a straight line across a British town while dressed as cowboys.
Iím trying to pin down why I found this so engrossing. Part of it is my own love of walking (confession: I donít have a driverís license.) I found Lone Twinís unquestioning belief in the importance of walking to be refreshing.
And part of it was that the activities themselves, so focussed and obsessive, were a bizarre echo of the rigors of childhood play: spending hours damming a stream, digging a hole, seeing how long you could hang upside-down.
Pointless on the surface, but full of meaning in the moment, and strangely satisfying at the end of the day.
Wednesday, October 20
I Don't Know What You're Going to Say.....
Clipboards, microphones, megaphones, black-and-metal cases, plastic bottles, and evidence of an impending video presentation spark a knee-jerk response, in all of us I venture to guess, that we ought to listen. When the first thing I hear is not instructions on how to apply for a loan, a warning that there will be a test at the end of this, or threats of the apocalypse if I don't vote for so-and-so, but rather the opening lines to Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road", I understand that I actually want to listen. These are two completely different feelings. Even though they have now raised their clipboards and started to read a numbered list that I do not immediately understand, phrases such as "I love you" and "I don't want to leave" appear momentarily on the video screen. I understand the feelings that surface in me from seeing and hearing those phrases, and my faith is renewed. I will trust to listen. Trusting a speaker has become an increasingly alien concept. Whether I am listening to a media source, a politician, a sales representative, any number of personal interactions that have the faintest odor of insincerity, an invisible shield instantly establishes its presence in my mind. I'm not going to trust the speaker until I check their claim with as many sources as I can get my ears around. I'm tired of doing this, but I do it anyway out of self-protection and a desire to pad myself with some truth. Now, imagine my delight when I find I can drop-kick my shield for an evening because it's been rendered irrelevant by the speaker's strategy of communication. He says "that church" and I see someone walking, without a church in sight, but the word and the image do not have to match for me to create a place for both of them in my perception. I'm shield-free and now he's singing. I don't need an explanation of why he's singing, perhaps he likes that song, I like it too. It's nice to hear him sing. We've either spoken the phrase "I know what you're going to say," had this phrase spoken to us, or heard it dramatized countless times in a variety of inflections. Watching Lone Twin, I felt a calm from the realization that I did not know what they were going to say, and would much rather listen than presume.
Tuesday, September 14
Every once in a while I catch my cat looking at me in a manner that is so open, still and expectant. It's almost a shock when I realize she must be some kind of furry messenger! What is the message? From where? I begin to pay more attention, I am never quite sure, but oh, how sweet she is!
This evening was made by two sweet messengers (hey, they are kinda furry too!). Both are completely present and in the moment, giving a little travelogue about a number trips they've made to places as diverse as Spain, Denmark and Michigan. In all these places they make a "walking" practice; sometimes walking all the streets on a map, or pushing a barrel up a hill, or traveling back and forth across a particular bridge for hours at a time. During these walks, they collect souvenirs, take photos and video and meet the natives. These walks are about walking, and as we slog along with them, pushing barrels, traversing bridges, stepping off edges of maps, collecting a variety of liquids, a kind of sweet serenity takes hold. Listening to their anecdotes about love and sweat, a benign calm grows. Little whirlwinds of memory spin about, and you find yourself filling in blanks that these two kindly leave for you. You are charmed, even tickled in a most delicate manner. And you want to learn stuff like the Danish word that means " the moment I saw you, I never wanted to be anywhere else but here with you, you are a jewel" or something like that.
This all made me feel hopeful. Even loved. Like my cat.
Hooray for Lone Twin!
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About BLOG THE BOARDS
Who better to write about what happens at On the Boards than the people who support and attend our performances? Making art is part of a dialogue between artist and audience, and so we've created Blog the Boards...
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About Lone Twin
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