Yvonne East

Monday, November 16, 2015

I went alone to the second open rehearsal.

The room is different. Carpet right up to the edges this time. The other observers are different too; many are sitting with their backs pressed against the wall. It feels more formal. This time I am aware of my role as the ‘clothed’ one. Last time I was fascinated by the constant negotiation and flux of power between the nude performers and the observers.

This sensation is more insular. Alone with my thoughts in a room full of people, I have more space to let my mind wander. No need for verbal exchange. I can just sit.

I watch the ‘lions’ prowling. They have moments of individuality, but I am acutely aware of the power of the pack. As a collective there is a strong energetic sensation. At one point they form a line across the width of the room where I am sitting. This feels like a wall of energy that I am pressed up against. The heady sensation is only released when they carefully break the line and move away.

I feel that this work, gently and subtly, alters relational boundaries. In the physical movement and transitions of the work, my own choices, and ways of ‘being in the world’ become more fluid. In order to negotiate the relationships I have with other people within the context of this time and place, I have a number of rules. Or perhaps they could be called beliefs. What ever they are, these limitations are choices, and are constantly being re-negotiated.

What is remarkable about this work is the transition of ‘states’ by the performers challenges my personal structures I use to relate to people and the environment around me. Before this experience I was aware of these relational structures, but this work gives me the opportunity, time and space to really feel them. I can experience and ‘be in’ the moment of transition.

The ‘pride of lions’ disperses in unison and they make contact with an observer by asking a thought-provoking question. As ‘humans’ the performers have a dialogue exchange with people nearby. I’m not asked a question. I wouldn’t like to normally admit it, and usually it wouldn’t bother me, but I feel isolated. I try not to overhear the personal conversations occurring within earshot. The conversations feel much more intimate than the nudity of the performers who sit close to me. It makes me feel uncomfortable and shy.

My gaze meets other observers who sit alone, some look uncomfortable too and it’s with them that I feel an empathetic bond. It seems that wherever you sit within this project, or the role you play, there appears an opportunity for empathic relation.

At the end, the performers move to the edges of the room. They take a moment to return to their day-to-day social identity (a point of transition worthy of a blog entry in itself) and begin to dress. What was there has now dematerialised; vanished while my eyes were wide open. I feel the loss. I am tired but my mind lingers in a peaceful meditative state. On the train home I am hyper aware, or perhaps just more empathetic? I notice more details, I meet the gaze of strangers and I don’t question it. It takes a few hours and I gradually return back to my ‘social self’. I have the memory of the lovely meditative state I was in. As I recall my experience I desire to observe the next moment of my own transition.

-Yvonne East, visitor to open rehearsals 5 & 12 November, 2015