sleep no more at midnight in paris

Saturday 13 Aug 11

A couple of weeks ago I went to see Sleep No More here in NYC. It's a sort of site-specific performance dancey piece that takes you on a journey through several buidlings and weird and wonderful seetings like forests and hospitals and cavernous corridors and is based on both Macbeth and Rebecca.  You wear masks so that everyone looks the same aside form the performers and you follow them around until you see bits of action and performance.  I had a really amazing time and actually had a very prized thing happen when I was taken into a room by one of the performers and had a 'one on one', just me and him, he rambling and crushing an egg full of dust in my hand and peering at me through a magnifying glass, me being pushed against a wall and saying yes when he asked me if I heard the voices too!  He actualy took off my mask!! Transgression! Then held me and so I held him!  It was frightening and moving and erotic all at once.  And of course if I were to go again, as I fully intend to do, there is no way I will have the same experience I had that night at all.  That's the beauty of it.

But at first, as I was wandering around looking for a performer or some sign of where the action was I kept thinking I was missing the boat, that the party was going on somewhere without me. And indeed it was.  There is a ritual that takes place in a certain part of the building at the beginning of the experience that I missed, and that is why I couldn't find any of the performers.

Then, last night I went to see Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris. The message of the film - aside from French people are cultured, sexy, intellectual and artistic and Americans are stupid, mean, uptight and philistine (Yeah, tell that to the Tea Party, Woody!) - is that we all think that life is more exciting at some other time in history, that our now is never going to be as magical as some era of the past.  However, we realise by the end of the film that the people from that era also think that their time is a bit dull and they long for a time earlier when they imagine things are better too.

It sort of made me think of that first quarter of an hour of Sleep No More. Instead of wondering where the action was I should have just looked around me and soaked in the atmosphere and the spectacle of the rooms when they were empty.  The latter part of my experience was only so magical because it was cumulative, and included the first bit. 

I guess I am just reminding myself how important it is to stop and smell the roses.  Cos you don't want to leave the garden and then realise you forgot to, do you?

(photo by Kevin Tachman)



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