rethinking why performance matters through the matter of performance
Trashing Performance

19 November 2009

Not how people move but what stops them

Author: Tim Etchells


In early rehearsals for a new Forced Entertainment performance project (opening next May, and as yet without a title) I’m watching Cathy, Terry, Claire and Amit pass a microphone back and forth at the front of the stage. They’re jabbering endlessly, voices pitched high by the electronic boxes at the sound-desk, laughing, breathless, idiotic, punning, free-associating – impossible to keep up with or keep track of it’s giddy, delirious ride. After some time I notice that something has changed though, even if it takes me a minute or two to identify what it is. In the middle of the line Terry is pausing momentarily when taking the mic, then, a short while later, she starts taking the mic and not speaking at all. The effect is like a channel-jump on TV. We’re in one flow, one movie, one energy, one flowing voice and then. Ugh. Nothing. And then someone else snatches the mic back and the train lurches off again, rollercoastering. The mic goes back and forth, and now the talking talking is always breaking breaking for these silent moments from Terry. Talk, laugh, anecdote, laughter, talk, break, phrase, sentence, laughter and energy break.
   Rewriting Pina Bausch (I'm not interested in how people move; I'm interested in what makes them move…) I might say at this point that it’s not how people move that interests me so much as what stops them. Indeed for an artist whose work has dealt with, and turned so much around language, it might seem strange that silence is the primary starting point for this project. But for me the gaps in speech and in texts, like blanked faces or empty stages or stilled dancers, are always something of a magnet… spaces for projection that pull me in. Like all emptied frames for communication, gaps in speech both demand imaginative intervention and, in their distruption of conversational or declamatory flow, point to problems in the communication economy of the social context or in the psychological economy of the subject. 

   Silence I guess is (so often) a question. A place to weigh and wonder. A turning point. At some point in this process I hope I’ll get to something like a full typology of silences, but for the moment, as I’m working on this research – preparing for the video interviews and encounters which will define it – I’m tumbling through silences and accounts of silences. Silences in performances, in theatres, on stages. Silences in cafes, in bedrooms. Silences in interviews, in interrogations. Silences in laboratories, in churches, in coal mines, in recording studios.

Show all entries for this thread »

RSS Subscribe to RSS

  • trashing-performance/words-and-images rehearsal (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images process (7)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images laughter (10)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images dance (9)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images disruption (9)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images imaginative spaces (15)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images reconstruction (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images ventriloquism (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images embodiment (11)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images affect (16)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images performance politics (15)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images restrictions (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images duration (6)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images spontaneity (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images tradition (9)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images presence (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images obstructions (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images conventions (9)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images subversion (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images dance technique (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images failure (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images uncanny (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images materiality (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images objects (10)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images gesture (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images nothing (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images formlessness (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images meaninglessness (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images repetition (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images virtuosity (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images rhethoric (6)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images promises (1)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images betrayal (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images images (13)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images recognition (8)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images beginning again (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images off road (7)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images deception (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images continuity (1)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images theatre (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images popular (6)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images trash (7)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images trashy (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images camp (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images taste (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images publics (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images cabaret (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images democracy (9)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images club (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images queer (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images ethics (1)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images underground (0)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images mainstream (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images sub-culture (1)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images feminist (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images politics (7)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images common (7)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images class (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images neo-liberalism (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images seriousness (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images television (7)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images gallery (6)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images DIY (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images visibility (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images resistance (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images knowledge (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images fat activism (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images occupation (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images non-human (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images therapy (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images war (1)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images trans (4)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images labour (5)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images love (3)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images Violence (2)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images participation (1)
  • trashing-performance/words-and-images Methodology (1)