The Language of Contortion
Publié par

“What language is this in?” he asked, sounding almost impatient while waiting in line for tickets. “Is it French? English? It’s a bit ambiguous.”

“Neither; it’s contortion. You’ll like it.”

Without knowing it at the time, this exchange—heard on the winding stairs of the Sala Rossa before tonight’s Edgy performance In Succube—would truly mark the very essence of the post you’re about to read. The two-second dialogue, quite simply, hit at the heart of the problems writers face sometimes with reviewing performance art: It is the most beautiful problem in the world, perhaps.

The thing is (especially in this case), the folks reviewing performance work recognize that what we’ve seen is so next-level, so out-of-the-linguistic-paradigm, that we can hardly name it, despite desperately wanting to give it the accurate accolades it deserves. And while stringing along the words that make sense for each moment is something we are expected to do, I always worry: can we do it justice? Should we even try? Especially when talking out-of-the-box theatre.

The senses we felt there aren’t French, not English. And looking at the notes scribbled in between moments of awe during this show is like looking at a sexy, scrambled map. They include the following:

– naked legs, black heels
– teasing red fabric
– eery humming
– wine, water
– wide eyes, open mouth, demon tongue
– [a badly drawn diagram I’m too embarrassed to scan]
– distorted orgasm
– transfixed nude, muscles, breasts, bellies
– unbraiding and pulling hair
– passing water mouth to mouth
– giggling, moaning
– masturbation… with a leg

Maybe you had to be there, right?

It’s difficult to truly recapture the effect of mascara running down her cheeks as she covered her naked demon-partner in blood from a turtle shell. How could one situate the siren calls, the sound of seagulls, the straddling angular limbs successfully? Why attempt to decode what they could possibly have signified when they just existed — so purely, so viscerally — before us? Does describing the ways these two extraordinary women straddle both each other and the lines of pain and pleasure, sisterhood and sex partner, really make any difference if you couldn’t possibly recreate those physical, intimate moments in any other fashion? How do you write a post where you’re not entirely sure how to describe the journey you know you just took?

All I can say is keep watching these women and their experimental theatre, Montreal.

Circus star Andréane Leclerc has a mastery of body unparallelled. Cabaret artist Holly Gauthier-Frankel, also known as “Miss Sugarpuss,” is the kind of performer you don’t have enough eyes in your head for. Lisa Gamble (Gambletron) a multi instrumentalist noise artist, brought the whole thing together through chimes, breath and ingeniously-placed microphones.

It’s there. It’s brilliant. It’s something you hope they tour around again and again, so we can begin to unravel it.

In their program, the only clue we had of this journey was the following: Nous suivre dans un monde ou rien n’est vraiment claire et tout est suggéré.

The rest is too real for a re-read.

– – –

TOMORROW artists from In Succube and Je Baise Les Yeux will be speaking at an Edgy U-Pop conference with Studio 303 Artistic Director Miriam Ginestier, hosted by my co-blogger Barb. It’s going down at the Casa del Popolo at 2p.m. Be there. (I know I certainly have questions.) And if you can’t make it, follow me on Twitter at @LauraBeeston for the fun.

< Editor's Note I came back to this post after tossing and turning for about an hour thinking about the program tonight while the Meow Mixers danced. See, any smart so-called arts writer would never actually admit they couldn't find the words to fit what was before them. Saying something like this out loud leaves us in a very vulnerable position in terms of critic cred, so I wanted to clarify something... I do think I get it. Two travelling demons, pushing their kinky, contortionist limits; corporeal cabin fever; horny devils dominating and submitting to each other with, just, the most straight-up water/blood/nut/blanket symbolism giving it that kick. This was the journey. It was incredible. All I was trying to say is that sometimes the words will never fit the picture because the picture is that intense, that vivid, or that vague. A piece like this might be read entirely differently, depending on a person's experience, interests or awareness of sexual tension and release. I'm sure the lady who got up to get a drink in the middle of a captivating, erect, glistening, naked handstand pose at the (literal) climax of the show probably has a whole other standpoint on this piece of art. You know? This entire addendum, of course, calls into question what exactly the role of a performance arts writer is even supposed to be. [Please, please comment about this! It obviously keeps me up at night!] Interpretation? Critique? Description? And what IF we read it wrong? Either way, I kind of like it when pieces of art challenge any so-called experts or "authority" voices speechless. It's a very good sign. >

Une réponse pour “The Language of Contortion”

  1. Barbara Legault

    Laura, you rule!

Laisser un commentaire