Thoughts about “Interweaving Performance Cultures”

First let me describe my coordinates and vectors. I am a performer, singer, composer, actor, improviser who has been performing in varied areas of music, theater, and art for almost forty years, involved in: solo work, group work, collaborations, ensembles, experimental, traditional, avant-garde, new traditions, contemporary, installation art, music performance, sound art, radio and……

This work we call performance has formed the line of my life, and yet it catches a fish that is very slippery to hold. After years of learning, yearning and tossing & turning I’ve finally accepted the inevitable: that the kernel of performance is chaos. It is the chaos of energy unbounded, unformed and uncharted; the chaos of stuff that can’t be possessed or controlled, but can only be passed onward with a momentary eccentric imprint. It’s the energetic chaos of eternal attraction and repulsion, and the still, centered chaos of seeds and storms. It hypnotically reflects what we all are and could be.

From these coordinates/vectors I’ve been thinking about interweaving performance cultures, and have arrived at a new locus:

1. Performance was, is and must always be concerned with the moment, and only the moment, of transcendence. Otherwise it gets seduced by, and transformed into, politics, education, high philosophy, religion, consumerism, ritual and/or entertainment.

2.a. This transcendence is a moment that we, audience and performers, can live and exult in only for a heartbreakingly temporary time.

2.b. Then we are responsible, obligated and (in)sanely motivated to carry the memory, tactile sensations and context of that “transit-story” experience into each of our daily lives.

2.c. Our lives respond to this glimpse of otherness by becoming fuller, broader, emptier, more translucent, funnier, nodally excited and much more mysterious.

3.a. Of course — politics, education, high philosophy, religion, consumerism, ritual and/or entertainment play formative roles in the temporal-cultural regions immediately before and after performance.

3.b. Of course each human is more or less “colonized” by history, mass culture and the real and illusory powers of larger issues and influential forces.

3.c. Of course performance represents and recapitulates the infinite and fissionary clash of individual and cultures (at least in the pre- & post- transcendence zones).

3.d. And of course, there will always be those dualities – before and after, habit and surprise, me and us, why and of course — that wrap around mysteriously luminous (or darkly beckoning) centers

4. And so, just because we are all human (at least until the next major mutation evolves a post-performance-species) there are perhaps five ways to deal with these thoughts as a performer (or a creator/imaginer of performance).

5.a. Seek to rebuild existing structures

5.b. Seek a leveling discourse among power centers

5.c. Seek/create/isolate new particulates of performing “stuff” that have never been used before and (re)build structure

5.d. Seek/create/isolate new particulates of performing “stuff” and release them raw into the winds of a howlingly busy world

5.e. Seek: the small, forgotten oases where mistaken and untaken mingle and flow.

And this is the message to the future that a research institute called Interweaving Performance Cultures can contribute:

To notice and note all the above, archive it, re-sort and report, argue and assay; and tell the stories, old and new, connective and disruptive, of potential transcendental power. By providing a kaleidoscopic series of windows and doors through which to glimpse the performative nucleus, the ForschungskollegVerflechtungen von Theaterkulturen” offers a much needed viewing-thinking-proposing-sampling-colliding-analyzing-storytelling-reflecting-enriching space – let’s call it a topography of performance’s architecture.

To further reflect on performance’s architecture, an “imaginary” monologue by Ludwig Wittgenstein is appended here.

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