We don’t have time for this.
That’s seriously how I felt as I trudged through the show on Thursday night.
You know, I wasn’t even going to write about it, until I saw it. And you know there’s a problem when a work inspires you to write about it out of a need to intervene between it and the artist, hoping to snap her out of whatever daze of contentment has apparently set in over the imagination, and urging her, begging her, to get serious.
I could be totally wrong here. It’s been known to happen. I’ve not been pleased with a lot of the performance I’ve seen recently. If some thing/moment/idea/execution grates against my sensibility early on, I seem to turn on the performance with a brutish force that is hard to abate. Furthermore, I’ve been having a hard time feeling at performances; or, rather, feeling anything more magnificent and inspiring than when the lights go down at the beginning; a rush and a quiet recess into oblivion, before the lights come back on and three people are clinging to a wall with holes cut into it, with a kaleidoscope of images–like every other kaleidoscope of images I have ever seen on-stage–washing their black and white painter’s uniform in shifting, if perfunctory dynamics of light.
It’s an old piece, Planes (1968). The idea is brilliant. Execution ok (honestly bothersome when you can see the performers change their minds, disrupting what should ((I think)) be fluid).
Who should I blame for the projections? You or Merce? Who started this all? This fact that video projection is the criterion of intellectually condoned performance in our time? Have we come full circle, from occidental, to irrelevant? The whole thing felt meaningless; not out of a need for interpretation to elicit meaning, but for a thing to have been chosen out of absolute necessity and inspiration.
Conversely, the best thing about O zlozony / O composite was the starry backdrop (thanks, Vija Celmins), beckoning me toward oblivion; to weightlessness; calling me back to the opening black out. Instead, I have to wrestle with why you’ve chosen to create these movements; to dance at all. Those little quirks can be endearing–they’re so human, I suppose–but sometimes feel a bit eccentric, too human, maybe; or just too much about you.
And they love you. They do. And why not? I do too, or, at least, I want to. I want to think, or feel, that everything you touch is golden; that your ideas are as rigorous as your composition; that your choice of collaborators is based on inspiration and a will to building something great together, and not just a lark, or worse, a sum; i.e. Trisha + other-famous-artist-X = …
The French dancers were lovely, but the men were out of sync often. Neither I nor my boyfriend could tell who was at fault. Could it have been you?
Glacial Decoy (1979) = Trish + Bob Rauschenberg = Hit Me Baby One More Time?
= More projections + nightgowns.
= Why do I care?
And I hear him now. No, not Bob. But Alastair, scolding me not to make a big issue of the costumes and the sets.
Ok. So, about the dance…
Lovely, really. So you. So delicate and occasionally…vulgar isn’t the word. Sassy? A pinch so I know you’re there behind this dancer’s body. I can see you, Trisha, dancing all of these parts. I can see you coming up with the movement in your studio, full of time and full of yourself. Is it all about you again?
Is my work all about me? Where is oblivion when you need it?
Oh, wait, L’Amour au theatre. ?.
This is what’s on your mind? This is what’s got your goat? This is coming into the world now? At BAM? Rameau? A world premiere?
FOR WHAT WORLD?
There’s too much out there that begs being answered. Too much experience, too many questions to be entertained like this. Too many things that need to be accounted for.
Trisha, if anything, you’ve strangled theater here. No breath, but the recycled air of the past thirty years; canned music; whimsy. Silence = Death. You know the saying. The theater is dying, and your finger prints are all over it’s neck.
Why do this? Why keep theater from blinding us like a mirror?
But you don’t have to explain yourself, do you? You’re Trisha Brown. And I’m an aspiring…
You’re Trisha Brown and I can’t…
You’re Trisha Brown…
I didn’t even know who you were until I started working at BAM. I lived a quarter of a century with you completely inconsequential to my life. So now, you have to make yourself consequential to it. You have to earn that.
You know, the most inspiring you’ve ever been to me was…and you didn’t know me, or know that I was watching, or that I cared to watch and store this in my memory forever…was watching you dance with Joe Melillo at a benefit in the Hamptons, one hot night, about five summers ago. You were rich (in spirit), and limber (in joints). Your smile was deep and your body gave off such a spirit, and Joe was a brave partner, twirling you under the white roof of the tent; dancing with the dancemaker of dance. I loved that; I loved love. Loved seeing you give so much to the moment.
Maybe all art is negative. It can’t be life, ever.
I’ve been mulling this crisis for a little while now. What’s worse: Silent art, or no art at all?
Oblivion, oblivion: Say something.
Tell me there’s more to Trisha Brown than the name, and the woman who comes out to bow at the end to big applause. Tell me you have doubts. Show me those. Show me your flowing dress on a sultry night in summertime. Make me a memory as fast as you can.
Just stop making real things that are as empty as they are complete.