Sleep no more

Sleep No More, McKittrick Hotel, NY

It’s like no other experience I’ve witnessed before.

Quickly, I’ve lost track of those I came with, wandering the rooms in a perpetual state of awe. There are stairs leading up and down, already I’ve lost track of what floor I’m on. Is there five levels, I’m really not sure now?

I enter a dark room. A flash of light, his clothes are torn from him.

There’s a love affair in a western street, they dance, torn by their love. There’s a hurt nurse in a maze of a forest, the long line of her neck reflects the lonely street lamp, the tree branches cast crisscross shadows over her struggling figure. A lone dancer twirls in an empty ballroom, so talented, so much emotion I can’t look away. A man rocks an empty crib, a torn teddy bear recently stitched held tightly against his chest. It’s impossible to see it all. Four hours, I’ve floated through the building, running up and down stairs chasing characters, standing in astonishment in the spectacle in front of me, or sitting by myself in a small dressing room, looking at my masked face in a mirror.

Another flash of light, the dancers twirl and twist. There’s blood on him now. A baby is placed on a alter. A sacrifice? A spell?

The audience all wear masks. White with deep dark eyes. Our faces seem to float around the actors like silent spirits watching, trying to make sense of this strange world we have found ourselves in. Or perhaps, they are the ghosts, doomed to play out the night’s tragic events, repeating their actions over and over. The ballroom is where it begins. They all dance, twirling around. It will come back here during the right, rewinding and restarting. A moment to follow another character, to see what was missed on another floor.

The strobe lights flicker faster, a deep pulsing beat vibrates through the room. He appears again. A goat’s head, naked, still covered in blood.

From the moment you step inside, you are immersed in a heightened world, where dance and violence embrace sensuously. There was a story – did I follow it? Not at all.  We were able to put together pieces at the end, combining the different scenes we had seen. Did the story matter? Not at all. The talent, the spectacle, the atmosphere was enough to engage me entirely.

No photos can be taken inside, instead here’s an illustration.


Yes, Let’s

The art: Dear Masato, all at once (get a life, the only thing that cuts across the species is death) By Lisa RadfordWestspace, 19th of November

Walking up the stairs to Westspace I began to hear a clamour of voices. This was not going to be an average gallery visit. Lisa Radford has put together a piece of writing that bridges performance and exhibition. Before I stepped inside I took a moment to take a deep breath.

Reminiscent of drama games on awareness and reactions; there were voices, sometimes clashing, with conversations appearing out of the chorus; there were people, walking, laying, mostly reacting. Where do I stand in this space that is not quite gallery, not quite performance? I was immediately pushed from being the unseen observer of art. My presence was influencing the actors reactions, changing the performance. I became so conscious of this I could hardly concentrate on the words spoken.

The exchanges between the performers brought to mind ‘Love and Information’ by Caryl Churchill, which I saw performed at the Malthouse. An unforgettable experience. Both employ snippets of conversations that allow the viewer to create links and parallels within their own head. Breaking the story and allowing thought. Yet in ‘Love and Information’, rather than also breaking the emotional link it strengthened it – I cried, I laughed. ‘Dear Masato’ didn’t achieve this connection with the viewer, but I don’t believe that was the purpose, at least it wasn’t necessary. And as a 6 hour ‘performance’ not reasonable.

Since it does go for so long I didn’t expect the level of action and symphony involved. I was only there for a short time in comparison, my anxieties couldn’t last too long. What I truly wasn’t expecting was the influence it had on me after I had left the space. On the busy streets of Melbourne everyone became the performers. Reacting to each other. I was more aware of my place amidst them. How my presence influenced their reactions. So different to before I walked into Westspace, when I was within my own head. Everyone that see’s this exhibition/performance will come out with a different impression, a different reading. I’m very curious to hear them.

See the next event on the 10th December 2016, 12-6pm.