The following response is courtesy of Deborah Jinza Thayer, dancemaker:
Ever spend too much time with anyone? You know that person–you go out to dinner and have nothing to say to each other. And it’s OK. Everything has been said. You’ve only spent a couple of decades together. Or maybe it just feels that way.
Take Meg Stuart and Benoit Lachambre–they are in this together, forever. As the piece opens we find them seated on these undersized fold-up stools in this altered state. I think I’ve been here before–crying, talking, holding each other off and on all night long and find myself the next morning in a surreal out-of-body state where time distorts and anything is possible.
Set on top of dirt-colored fabricated terrain, Stuart and Lachambre perch–they are as unstable as the curvaceous furry landscape that they stand/move/cry on. I watch Benoit Lachambre twittering and twitching on his chair. It seems like he took both extreme emotional states and/or large physical movements and compressed and concentrated them into these small twitters. The effect is a casting of a potent emotional net–something that Stuart can really play with as she swings between laughter and sobbing. Stuart gets up.
And then the situation shifts. And keeps shifting. Now I ask, is Stuart being propelled by some force under the ground? She thrashes and battles as if live electrical wires contained in the ground emerge through her body to slash and disseminate the enemy. Whomever that may be. The ground underneath is rumbling, an earthquake of sorts as she totters, slips and thrashes.
I admire these two performers for their evolved, distinctive and wide range of personal movement motifs. I wish I could move that way. Maybe I need to find some brown fur and try it myself.
They continue to shapeshift. At one moment they are strangers, but lovers at a picnic, trying to get it on. Kind-of (I hope your intimate outdoor experience doesn’t replicate this one). Blink and you find them as animals, perhaps hedgehogs, smashing their furry face into the dirt, trying to get under the dirt, trying to get off this ever shifting terrain. Or perhaps just to stuff dirt down your throat and roll in the mud, just to feel again. Just to feel the animal in you.
At one point, Lachambre runs like a caged beast back and forth across the top of the mountainous landscape. As he rips off his clothes, he starts to de-evolve into an ape-like creature, lets out a primal scream-song, falls down the hill, exhausting himself into a very human cry. How does it feel to be out there as one wet sobbing mess? How does it feel to fall and have your bodily fluids wiped off by the brown fur? His muscles are working so hard to cry. Working so hard to be so vulnerable. Have I seen a naked man crying? Yes, but not often. And surely I haven’t seen one that I didn’t know. And definitely not in front of a few hundred people.
I am reminded that I’ve found myself crying at the thought of evolving. Why did we have to evolve into humans and mess up this lovely planet? Or on a more personal note, why did I have to be a human? If I had stayed at the earthworm stage or maybe even a rock, I wouldn’t have to feel this.
Are we there yet? Stuart asks.
Strangely enough, Forgeries, Love and other Matters is very child-like. Extreme emotional states flip over, scenarios are fabricated, and everything falls over in a nano-beat. It evolves and de-evolves, goes everywhere and nowhere, and ends up in the pup tent.
Helping to orchestrate this strange playground is Hahn Rowe. He has his own little cubby of sonic toys onstage. Layered textures of both organic and inorganic sounds emerge. At times, lush and spatial, at other times minimal and tender, at one point down-right homey. I try to point my craftwoman’s antennas toward the sound for my own selfish reasons, maybe I could get some music ideas, but I keep slipping off the task. The soundscape draws me back into the space between Stuart and Lachambre. And it’s painful. But wait, Rowe is having a great time. He is playing, leaping around his equipment, flopping around, flipping through records, commenting on the action–“ needs more excitement”, donning a cowboy hat and whistling.
I want to hang with Rowe. I want to play in the playground. I want to slide up and down the hilly hills. I want to hitch a rubber line to someone and be pulled around. I want to dive into some unknown cubby beneath the set and pull out a surprise. I want to wear a furry jump suit and roll, roll, roll. However, I am pulled back to Stuart and Lachambre’s space/place of not quite connecting–the space in between the two. And now I remember a Japanese Butoh scholar explaining the concept of “ ma” or the “ space in between” and how this concept is absent in western culture. And I think, oh, no it’s not–it’s right here in between these two despondent beings.
Are we there yet?
Then I finally notice that the quality of their touch has been skewed the entire evening and now it’s irritating me. Whenever they lean into each other or share weight, there is no quality of yielding. No softening, no supporting, no listening; just push/pulling and buttressing. I feel myself wanting for them to be comforted. Comforted by touch. Forget them, they’re just performers, I need comfort.
By the time they find themselves in the subterranean laboratory of sorts. I’ve had it.
As they communicate with their monotone neutral descriptors of each other and of “ this place,” I want off the set. It’s going on too long–this show will never end. But I think that is the point. Now I am in the same space/place as they are.
Are we there yet? I think I am.