PuSh Blog

The Show Must Go On Cast Blog: Max Wyman, Jan 8

January 09, 2010

By Max Wyman, performer in The Show Must Go On
Day three of rehearsals

This is becoming serious fun. By the time I arrived at the rehearsal hall last night, everyone was busy warming up. We are realizing we have to be prepared for just about anything, movement-wise. As Adrienne said in her blog yesterday, a lot of what we do looks like something anyone can do, but as she says, it turns out to be harder than you think. That’s partly because you have to think, to piece together the puzzle of its structure, and partly because the very simplicity of what we are asked to do changes our relationship to the audience. If they can do it, why aren’t they up here with us doing it? (In fact, the deceptively “easy” look of the performance has sometimes provoked members of the audience in previous productions to take to the stage with the dancers. Others, of course, have simply walked out.)

Adrienne talks about how “the gaze of the audience makes it impossible to just BE.” And in most theatrical circumstances that’s true; it probably applies here as well. Your awareness of being scrutinized by many pairs of eyes inevitably colours the way you are. Except that in this case I think the choreographer, Jérôme Bel, is seriously trying to get rid of the things that create the divide between performers and performed-at: things like awe and expectation (on the part of the audience), ego and anxiety (on the part of the performer). So the removal of the element of virtuosity and spectacle that so many of us expect to share when we go to see something that’s described as a dance performance means that there has to be something else for the audience to get back when they look at 22 people in street clothes in a black box. That something else is us, or the us of us: the fact of our individual beings, performing a sequence of tasks simply and clearly, if not yet (or probably in my case never) particularly well. It’s a reduction to its simplest terms of the ages-old two-way embrace that goes on between audience and performer, performer and audience.

We were introduced to three new sequences last night, which makes 11 of the 18. As each piece of music is played for the first time, Dina and Henrique challenge us to make our own performance sense out of them. We mostly get it wrong (or, rather, we make choices that are not the ones they want) but there is genuine delight when the group discovers the secret of each little sequence.
The show seems at first to be merely a pastiche of the sweet and the absurd, but as we learn more and more of it we are coming to understand the rigour of its logic and shape. Cerebral, post-modernist, deconstructionist – it has invited all kinds of definitions, and you can make a case for them all. Right now, none of us are much concerned about that. We’re having too much fun. Jim Green still hasn’t arrived, and he doesn’t know what he’s missing.

The Show Must Go On is part of the 2010 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and is presented with SFU Woodward’s and The Dance Centre. Jan 20-23, 2010 at 8:00pm, The Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU. Click here for full details.