The audience is barefoot. Already, being shoeless implies entering a private space, a shared zone. Like somebody’s living room.
This notion of private space is continued upon entering the rehearsal room. The performers are completely naked, a writhing mass of bodies moving in synchronicity yet also individually. This sounds as though it would be sexual, when in fact it’s the complete opposite. Limbs melt into one another, it becomes difficult to discern where one body begins and ends. As I adjust to the nudity, I realise that the performers are moving as lions. They look so animalistic and proud, the way their shoulders fall and their knuckles flex beneath their hands.
I start not to notice any of the existing binaries – gender, age, race, culture. Everyone just becomes a body, and I begin to wonder how the evolution of clothing ever came into existence – nudity is so raw and beautiful. My clothing makes me feel uncomfortable and restricted; I have the impulse to be naked with the rest of the lions.
The audience sits tentatively on the outskirts of the carpet, cautious at first. The roles of spectator and performer become interchangeable as the lions encircle audience members, crawling up to them and heavily sitting their naked bodies down closely to them. As I stand and observe, one lion makes his way over to me, slowly and deliberately sitting down right next to my feet. He is close enough that I could reach out and touch him.
I notice some of the performers casually conversing with audience members, and I wonder whether they know each other. I make my way to the other side of the room and sit down amongst the audience. One lion crawls straight towards me, making eye contact that I can’t break away from. Suddenly she says, ‘Hi, I’m Alice, can I ask you a question?’
I’m amazed at the ease with which Alice initiates a conversation whilst naked. She is no longer a lion, but an immediate friend. She asks me what aging means to me, and we proceed to have a profound conversation about the linear way that humanity perceives time, and the contrast between physically and mentally aging. The honesty in her nudity facilitates an honesty in our dialogue. Succeeding our conversation, Alice becomes a lion once more, sauntering off towards the middle of the room with the rest of the pack.
I observe similar interactions occurring between performers and audience members, each conversation appearing as though the participants are old friends. Somehow I feel as though I trust everyone in the room. Time slows, and for those ninety minutes, nothing else exists.
I leave feeling euphoric, as though I have just witnessed what it means to be alive, to be human, to be existing in correspondence with everything around me.
- Katie Winten, Intern, Kaldor Public Art projects and visitor to the open rehearsal 5 November, 2015