More Than Just A Piece of Sky: An Open Rehearsal
On 01, Jul 2014 | In Events | By marywp
On Saturday, June 28, Pseudo Empire presented an intimate performance by Marissa Perel, More Than Just A Piece of Sky at Chez Bushwick, a dance studio and rehearsal space near our Troutman street location. The event was constructed as an open rehearsal for Perel’s ongoing performance project, More Than Just A Piece of Sky that will culminate in an exhibition and performance series at the Chocolate Factory in September. Over the duration of the performance, Perel performed alongside Jumatatu Poe and Lindsey Reuter, suggesting placements for their bodies, holding props, easily moving between performer and choreographer.
The core of the performance was loosley derived from the story of Yentl the Yeshiva Boy as directed by Barbra Streisand in the 1983 musical motion picture. Engaging with the characters of Yentl and Avigdor, the performers opened with a slow encircling, of each other, of their relationships to the space and to each other. Poe and Reuter, making their was to the bed, a white nucleus upon which much of the key moments of the evening, lay under the covers, their movements, and Perel’s and she turned them, pulling them eventually into a heap onto the floor unfolded slowly, almost achingly, without a cloud of sensual chemistry. Pulling the bed up over them as a blanket, Poe and Reuter’s extended moment in hiding, froze the progress of the performance, what was happening under the bed, as Perel looked on. Running through this early phrase of the performance was a text projected behind the performance and spoken to each other in different conversational settings. “If I am not for myself, who am I?” Their relationship to each other remained constantly linked, as Perel fed her colleagues lines in a whisper, almost to remain inaudible by the audience, they repeated in turn, transforming the text into a dialogue, questioning and considering the speaker and the receiver. Perel settles their quizzical musings with the voice of Streisand; Papa Can You Hear Me is performed on a vintage 1980s record player.
To end the first chapter (it feels somehow more appropriate to consider the different sections of the dance in terms of poetry or writing vs. performing arts), Perel and Reuter find themselves together on the bed, under the sheet–their relationship suddenly more intimate. Poe, who had begun the performance arm in arm with Reuter, finds himself alone, and explores this new relation in a solo to Bronski Beat’s 1980’s classic, Smalltown Boy. During his movement away from the pair, Reuter rises, proceeds to wrap the now undressed Perel in a tube of blue neon lighting and prompt depart. Now estranged from both partners, Perel is bound and retreats again under the sheets.
The second chapter moves shiftily as Perel is joined by Poe, who tenderly lays his shirt over her body, the bed becomes a ledge on which they move, rest. As Retuter returns, moving slowly towards her Abigdor, Perel’s use of the bed as a shield, as a tool, uproots it from its objectood, becoming in may ways a metaphor for the shifting relationships and signs at play in the work.
Poe and Reuter join each other on the end again, they whisper and smile, sharing a secret. Reuter’s following duet with Perel, operating simultaneously with Poe self-portrait study in the room’s mirror. The silence of tis section enhances its beauty, Perel–still wrapped in the bed sheet clings to Reuter’s body, turning, until Perel lays cocoon-like upon the floor, at once helpless yet full of power and energy.
Once again Reuter joins Poe, seated together on a bench before the mirror. Looking ahead, at themselves, at each other, their arms perform a silent ritual, a ballet of silence, of exploration of understanding. The phrase reads as one of contemplation, of acceptance, Perel’s ghostly solo behind the pair, moving solely across the space, moving the folds of her sheet is, like their seated pair’s movements full of solemnity. Finally, Perel replaces Poe beside Reuter, either seated duet echoing the previous, the roles are reversed.
As night fell outside, Perel once again began to recite texts projected behind the performers “If I remember myself, who am I?” The relationship of one to another of man and woman, of person to person and body to body are once again transferred and echoed, lines are fed and repeated, questions asked and repeated in turn. In the final exchange, a reversal and repeating of the lines “I’ll state the premise. . . you’ll dispute.” This dialogue, echoing the teasing, witty arguing of Avigdor and Yentl in the film, surmised their relationship, the truths as perceived in that moment and the encounters moving from that as creating a series of fleeting realties and relationships.
In opening up and experimenting with an alternative version of the familiar narrative, Perel introduces an interpretation that suggests further middles and endings, exploring potential meanings and possibilities.
mary l. coyne