Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's a Secret: An Excursion into Time Transformed

An extraordinary experiment set sail on Columbus Day at NYU Silver Room 220. The creators describe the event:
“It’s a Secret” is an experimental music theater production. The work is an hour-long composition for 2 singers (soprano and baritone), 4 instrumentalists (flute, violin, trombone and bass clarinet), and live electronics. It is currently in workshop at New York University.
The project deals with our increasing confusion over the relationship between public and private identities. At what point should the private become public? And to what or whose end? This dilemma is presented through a series of encounters within an immersive theater space. Performers and audience members alike inhabit a semi-public, ambiguous space of reflected memories and dreams…
Two narratives run through the show. One witnesses the Alice James, real-life sister to William and Henry, of Susan Sontag’s last play: Alice in Bed, in her painful, mute rejection of her famous family’s public life. Here, enframed, Alice appears and stands forth, casting her gaze like that of a portrait out upon the viewer. Alice fades in and out. As she withdraws, the 19th century bourgeois public sphere begins to crackle with energy of digital technology. The second narrative traces the imprint of technology upon our thoughts and utterances. Private thought now dances along electric circuits like the digital effervescence of memory.
What follows is my own mapping of the performance. Mapping was intensive, a number of members of the company were capturing the moments as multiple video  recordings in constantly shifting points of view as well as still image. We were warned that any imaging or recording we did would become the property of the performing company, so I chose to map the experience by moving constantly and chaining my point of view and mentally recording my experience of the hour as it unfolded.

An excursion...
An experiment...
An indulgence...
Mapping a shared experience
As music theatre
Challenges awareness
On several levels:
Shrouded in the mystery
Of disguised space
Where Time is a capsule
Of the Past,
Performers ring the space
Situated like constellations...
No audience.
Merely onlookers and sharers
Conscious awareness
In a parallel universe,
Watching and avoiding collisions...
A full complement of independent musicians
All performers in a mapped event
Containing calculated spontaneity...
Moments of precision
Captured by multiple cameras
Choreographed by targets and intuition...
We are caught in the deliberate diffusion
Of moments
informing by innuendo...
Collaborating with sounds
And Anguish...
Time suspended~
The past trapped
In agony and despair:
Daughter and Father
Sublimely isolated
In a circumstance of doom and despair.
This is no wonderland...
Alice and her Brothers,
Alice and her Father,
Are trapped in cataclysms
Of the mind...
A creative spirit
Whose inner adventure
Was known early to her
Until decades after her early death.
Her diary revealed an inquiring
And relentless mind,
Resigned to an inner sanctuary
Of imagination,
She vividly recorded
The world she knew.
Alice James reminds us
To remember, revere, and revive
The substance of our interior existence.
What took place on October 12
Was an inward voyage
Setting sail across a vast interior sea
Unknown and unexplored...
Setting sail as a work in progress
Drawing upon past structures
To create an ongoing performance:
A constellation orbiting a galaxy
Recording each changing moment
In constant calibration...
So each rotation is not repetition
But breaking new ground into the unknown...
Cameras documenting their angles,
Their luminosity,
Form part of a new emerging reality.
Actors breaking from rehearsals
Into moments of astonishment.

Nothing watched remains the same.
There is no detachment,
Only entanglement.

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