Sunday, 17 October 2010

R & D : Day 1 : Dudendance

Dudendance Residency
15 October 2010
Jersey Arts Centre: St. James

The Dudendance Spaceman, with Paul Rous and Clea Wallis, is one of the most compelling performance experiences that you can expect to find this side of Mabou Mines, The Wooster Group or Grupo Corpo. The strong visual, physical and performative identity of each company engages, equally, on an emotional and intellectual level.

Spaceman compels your direct involvement because it allows its audience – perhaps even forces its audience – to become a part of its evolutionary physical process and, in so doing, breaks down any real or imagined barrier that may exist between them.

The piece draws inspiration from astronaut training procedures and NASA treaties, 50’s kitsch Sci-Fi, the natural world and its animal kingdom, and Darwinism.The pace of Paul Rous’s performance is phenomenal and, as a result, your own concentration, focus and being are aligned with the precision of his physical mutations.

The ‘silverback’ sequence: hissing, spitting, picking, touching, watching and rolling created a total belief in the transformation of human body and form into gorilla body and form – distinct but connected: and one of the same. Lips, eyes, knuckles and spine of both performer and gorilla sit in physical unity – harmony – and in this moment you understand the origin of species.There is meditative beauty and grace to this unity, this precision, this harmony – and this ability of observation – which allows an audience to become wholly connected with the hypnotic conviction and clarity of Spaceman’s journey.

This journey is a quest of exploration: ‘to boldly go…’

Spaceman arrives in our world – of the space, the place, the theatre – in ‘The White Dress’. The white dress is a fusion of the archaic, with its bonneted, floor-length, scullery-like contours and layers, and that of the high-spec. robustness, texture and sealed-and-suited nature of a NASA spacesuit: a 21st century design odyssey. Kubrick, Lang, Lucas and Roddenberry would be envious of its multi-levelled originality, wit and cinematic impact.

Pockets of light: ellipses, circles, shafts and sprays, the straw-like hue over the intimate arcs of some twenty-five chairs at the beginning, even the displaced parallelogram of the film projection of Spaceman washed up on a beach, signalled a prophetic anticipation of the quest to discover, to experience, to find light and to see: to evolve.

The subliminal level and subtlety of sounds used throughout: cicadas, church bells, Buddhist chimes, breathing and the sea; the music of the Spanish renaissance composer Thomas Luis de Victoria; Apollo mission countdowns and commentary; and the music of Fabiana Galante and Sammy Davis Junior conjured an atmosphere of the internal philosophical debate and scrutiny about the agony, ecstasy and sophistication of our existence, being and purpose.

This experience and debate is brought to a beautiful climax - an epiphany - when Spaceman silently exits from the now darkened universe – the theatre – through a door that, once opened, spills brilliant white light across the space from beyond: a place which, in this last moment of discovery and performance, becomes out of our reach. The dual sense of euphoria (conjured by the sensory impact of this moment) and the devastation (at not being able to follow) was overwhelming as the breeze of the natural world beyond brushed gently across our faces. Spaceman, with his brilliant-white dress bristling in brilliant-white light, continued on his journey: his evolutionary quest.

There is, throughout the Spaceman experience, an exploration of both the tension, and the unity, created between the opposition of the masculine and the feminine; between the natural world and scientific endeavour; between exploration and discovery; between ourselves and the performance.

Throughout: we feel that we are part of an experiment; an experiment of science and one of performance; of something new; of something secretive; of something private; of something that we should not, ordinarily, be a part of; but that we have nonetheless been privileged to have been witness to...

The Dudendance Spaceman is a hypnotic, compelling, and a phenomenally beautiful journey of discovery.

for: Paul & Clea ~ thank you.


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