Monday, October 15, 2007
Last Thursday downtown Olympia was the stage for the first in the series of public performances created for this fall. The piece was titled MILKMEN, and it featured the same characters from the past two performances. Set in a slightly different situation, the characters spoke for the first time. The words they spoke however, were not a dialog, but framents of inter-related phrases. I wanted to use words as objects, rather than a tool for communication. My hope was to create word objects that would fall deft upon the ear of the spectator, and would have to be obsorbed into the spectator through a different sensory reciever. Each performer was assigned a part of a phrase, for example, "that's interesting, let me tell you a story about when my wife.." The only word that changed in this speech was the subject (wife, children, son, daughter, the baby). The phrases were spoken at random, sometimes sparse and sometimes overlapping into a cacophany of 'businessman babel.' As for the movement; instead of the sporadic exaggerated movents used in the past events, the characters moved in machanical unsion. They marched very slowly in-line in no particular path around the downtown sidwalks, alley-ways, and parking lots, once even intruding through Olympia's en vogue Blackfront Art Gallery.
The performance caused quite the commotion with groups of downtowners literally running out of restaurants and businesses to catch a glimpse of the happening. With today's convenient technology, everyone was snaping pictures with their cellphones and digital cameras. A few photography students were even on the scene with actual 35mm. Traffic was held up on a few different occasions and the topper came when the performance persuaded a group of young street vagrants to join in line with the players.
As with all of my work, I didn't have any specific message to deliver with this performance. I was only working from an image in my head, which i made manifest into performance. However, this doesn't mean that the spectator can't form his or her own interpretations of it. One gentleman Mr. Richard DeRosa and his wife were among those who did such that. Mr. DeRosa was so intrequed by the images he saw that it moved him to email the John Robins, the Performing and Media Arts Manager at the Evergreen State College. John put me in contact with Mr. Derosa, who shared with me his wonderful interpretation of the performance as well as personal stories of his experiences in the business world. I am very grateful to Mr. DeRosa for sharing such things with me, for I think his act of listening and sharing part of himself spoke directly in opposition to part of what this performance maybe had to say. Here is his interpretation he wrote to me in an email:
"I don't really know much the genre, how it's written, and what type of
message is being attempted, but I was struck by a certain image that
It struck me as a statement about man's condition. I imagined a
scene, where men and women, on their way home from work, would stop at
corner store to pick up some milk, before hurrying home to their
As they would come across another acquaintance, portrayed by each of
mimes, they would have these little conversations, each one wanting to
the other his tale of woe, "let me tell you about MY wife, MY life, my
son....", but none of them really listening to the other's story,
each felt that their story was worth hearing...."let me tell you a
about MY life.......". Even the way they were "walking" through life
depicted in their constant motion through the streets of Olympia. They
weren't standing around in a circle talking to each other, but just
through life, trying to get someone to hear their story.
It's a rather sad and poignant tale, but one that's very easy to
Since this email, Mr. DeRosa and myself have exhanged a few emails where he has extrapolated in more detail about his thoughts about the theme of the performance and my initial thoughts that moved me to create this peice. It has been very helpful to me to talk about my work in such a forum.
Alos, there have been a number of people, including Mr. DeRosa, who refer to these characters as mimes (probably because of thier white faces). I haven't completely figured out these characters; in fact, that is part of the reason i am creating these performances for them, but i don't consider them mimes. I like to think of them more as mannequins: empty, plastic, but still attributing certain and exaggerated human features and characterstics. Mr. DeRosa agreed with this as a more fitting definition after I responded to his initial comment.