Let me Tell you: A story
'Let me Tell you: A story' is a performance that attempts to complicate representation and/or (re)present the displacement of ideas in their representations, or something like that. But really, what better way to (re)present an idea than to just tell a story. Representation has an inherent narrativity. Storyteller and audience is what we need and we've got that.
But who's on stage here? It's not just me, no, I'm not enough. You have to be here. And like you, I just play myself, and that's all there is to it. I'm just me. No joke, this isn't an act. And that, settles that. But it doesn't really, now does it? There's a gap between reality and representation that's problematic, because it's hard to place meaning in it. Well, this performance develops a truth through illusions created with motions, sights and sounds.
And if you haven't guessed, I'm going to tell a story, or more precisely, we're going to tell a story. That's right, I said we, because we all know that you're the important ones here. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you, and I need your help. The only way a story gets told is through your interaction. With that in mind, I'm going to ask you to participate in the telling of this tale.
First off, let's warm up to the task by playing a game of "Simon Says" it's a simple game of listening, watching and miming. For those of you who might not know how to play; just do as Simon says, not as I do (play game) OK, like the game, the story needs your involvement, you're a part of it. So, I just need a few of you to help, and don't worry, you're not getting yourself into anything too embarrassing. And remember, your interaction is vital to this process.
So, I need someone to be our heroine. I also need a stage manager to regulate the audience. (get their names, explain their jobs) And I need two people to be in a scene. Now, the rest of you are going to be the peanut gallery/greek chorus, it's your job to give us boos, cheers, and oohs and aahs as directed by our stage manager. If this person shows you the boo sign, that's what you should do, if you see the applause sign, cheer, and if you get the ooh and aah sign... Alright, let's practice...
OK, it's time to spin this yarn. We're going to look at two scenes from Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics (set up scenes). Here we have the heroine of our tale (POINT) within one of two framed scenes that don't necessarily have anything to do with each other. But putting them together allows for potential meanings to be read in their conjunction. For instance does this guy die, or does he get away? And what does she (the heroine) have to do with this? Let's take a vote. Who here thinks our man escapes? Now who here thinks he doesn't make it? Well, he dies / lives.
You see, context matters. By placing the scenes together we get a sense of space and time. The framed scenes show us some things, but other things are not shown. In between these two scenes something happens. What happens is up to your imagination, the meaning was created by you. You are the one who killed this poor man, you decided where the ax fell / You are the one that let this man get away, you decided that the ax missed (POINT).
It's like a koan, it's an empty space filled by you. Meaning is ambiguous, unfixed, open to us and opened by us. Now, you might ask, can we break out of these frames of meaning? Can we escape the emptiness between an experience and our expression of it? Well, I'd say that we can't. I believe we blur them, meld them, mix them up and exceed them. There is a slipping, and adding, of meaning, (Step thru frames) between and through. Something gets left out, something gets added, there's never a one-one correspondence in representation (break down scene).
(get heroine to draw on the cardboard) Think of representation as a mark that is always already leaving something out Context can be infinite, so a mark draws a line. There's a choice involved in what is marked and what is not marked, and a trace of what is not marked is left in the marking. This marking represents a 'reality', and what's amazing is that so much is understood in this process of representations and slipping and adding (POINT). In our representations of reality, a hyperreality is created that is as real as reality. Representation is elusive and fragmented and image is everything, or is it imagination?
Now, it should be noted that in these representations we won't find the truth. Truth is contingent and stranger than fiction. To look for truth is to open a cabinet of wonders, and a can of worms. But that doesn't stop us from looking now does it? But what are we looking for? Meaning, of course, or the lack thereof. And I'm sure that you, like myself, turn to the dictionary when in search of meaning. So, let's go find some meaning (to heroine) OK, I want you to find a word that you like, any word (then I read out the word and have audience guess meaning, and read definition to them). Well then, you can find meaning, maybe just not the meaning you were looking for, but hey, that's life (POINT).
So, how do we talk about something that's not expressed with words? My guess is that we talk around it, over, under and beside it, we talk sitting in its lap and we talk in circles. For instance, here we have... art (drawn on cardboard). To describe this work of art is to create a representation through language; through metaphor, metonym, synecdoche, analogy, and anecdote. And language is the always already not quite right, well, almost always. It's to never say what we mean to say because it will always already mean something else (POINT). With this in mind my heroine, I want you to look at this work of art and, in a sentence, whisper to me what you think it means. (write it down on a notecard, edit it for fun with them)
OK, my peanut gallery, my modern day greek chorus I need your help. We're going to play the telephone game, a great idea that I'm borrowing, but I'll give it back when I'm done. Incidentally, the ideas expressed in this performance are not necessarily mine. If you agree with the ideas, they are mine. If not, well then, they're someone else's (POINT). Anyway back to the telephone game, I'm going to start over here and we will work our way through to here. The point of this game is to listen to what you've been told and whisper it to the next person. So, here we go (pass the phrase around the group, write down their version of what was said) Well, well, not too bad. Our heroine here said this ... and here's what ya'll came up with. Lots of slipping and adding going on here.
You see, you're giving something to the story (POINT). Your interaction in this process has helped fabricate it. So, tell me a story. A story of stories about stories. (read story off cards) In this story, simon said that life and death hung in the balance with ___ winning for now, and art, art was shown to simply be- heroine's reading of art- yet it's also - gallery's reading- but our heroine gave us the meaning of it all, it's just - dictionary word (POINT).
And that's not all. I want to leave you with some questions to ponder: Why are you here? Where are you? Who are you? How are you? Why are you watching? What do you want? What do you know? How do you know? And, who cares?
In conclusion; there is no conclusion. For in the end, there is no end. There is no closure in this process, there's just marks. So, I leave it to you my friends, thank you for helping, a round of applause for them and all of you. This may not have displayed what you wanted, but it is only a part of a story, a mark if you will, and if you won't, well there's so much more. It's up to you to leave a mark. Thank you.
-2 large standing frames
- duct taped ax
-white cardboard, framed
-black magic marker
-cards -boos, cheer, oohs and aahs
-notecards and pens