Act One: The Setup
I mention that my work is about connections, so I'd rather have a conversation than perform a piece.
I hand out lined paper labelled "faults" at the top. I invite the audience to write down any faults they see/hear/witness (open to interpretation) as such reflections will make the event more "performative." I check to see that my phone has been turned off.
Act Two: The Conversation
I sit in a chair (noting that it also lends to performativity) and mention my costume: slightly dressier than usual, as befits an audition, though likely more conservative than a Master of Fine Art, anyway helps with the idea this is a performance, although really I'm just going to talk a bit about myself, things that are on my mind, in the hopes of some connection.
I talk about these things:
Window Washer Falls 11 Stories
My current marital status
My possible move away from San Francisco
A friend I haven't seen in a long while who is ill
During my conversation about each topic, I reassure the audience that everything is fine / all is for the best / things will be okay. The window washer was, at the time of the conversation, at SF General.* Things that are hard become easier, despite the upheaval of change. My friend is in treatment. Etc.
Act Three: The Call
My phone rings, and I tell the audience "I have to take this."** For the phone call, I have a script; at the end of the script I say "I'm sorry" to the audience, and exit. This is the (approximate) script:
*He is still "fighting for his life"
**In fact, I had set a timer on my phone in Act One. In actual fact, the timer didn't go off in the audition; I rushed through the conversation and found myself with nothing further to say and 12 seconds remaining.
Was it successful? Did I convey what I was trying to convey? On Saturday morning, both yes and no, as evidenced by the feedback I received. I really enjoyed the mode of feedback, so that will be the subject of my next post. But what was I trying to say?
I wanted to demonstrate that our crises are often kept private, and the privacy of our catastrophes makes them similar to fault lines: running beneath the surface, likely to erupt in both spectacular and small ways, largely ignored or denied by others and often ourselves. "Everything will be okay." And to highlight the tendency of people like me to apologize for things that aren't our faults, while ignoring the things that might be. And to feel the futility of saying "I'm sorry" to someone else's catastrophe. I wanted the audience to feel a personal connection to me as I revealed faults (metaphorical and literal) as a reminder that these faultlines lie in each of us, and that acknowledging them in others is an act of empathy.
By chance, as I was preparing earlier in the morning, I came across this interview with StyleLikeU founders Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum, and Tallulah Willis. Note Willis' use of "faultlines," and the What's Underneath Project's use of personal stories to promote empathy and connection.
(to be continued...)