What happens, when you pack all your thoughts and feelings about death, grief and absence in one performance? A lot! With „Thank you for coming: Space“ Faye Driscoll wraps up her trilogy about disembodyment and the audience plays a big part in it.
The trilogy „Attendence“, „Play“ and „Space“
Ten years ago, Driscoll wanted to go towards things that scared her the most. She confessed „it was the the idea of doing some sort of audience participation“. So she created three „Thank you for coming“-pieces. In „Attendence“ (2014), Driscoll was exploring the question how to change state of the audience from passive to active. A part of them entered the stage and danced together with the performers in the end.
After „Attendence“, she worked with the discrepancy of what people say and what they do, behaviour and action. Her second performance „Play“ (2019) is a musical, almost theatrical piece, created with the help of the audience. For „Space“ (2019), the last piece of the trilogy, she puts it all together in a very clever solo and fills the void in the room by using her body, voice and perspiration.
The quiet before the storm
On the first look, it‘ s a pretty minimalistic setup. White chairs surround a cubed floor, but by having a closer look you know: A lot will happen. There are ropes tied on some of the chairs. Following each rope, one could see them carrying a weight, a microphone, leaves, a lemon and some surprises. Two cement blocks lie on the floor, during the performance Driscoll will put them on her body and later on, she will ask audience members to pass a pack of clay back and forth.
Driscoll starts the performance by saying „hello“ to the audience. She talks about how they probably made their way to the venue and different reasons for them being there: „You look good. I hope, you are feeling pretty good“. But, she remarks, „you are really happy (..), but you don`t know if it’s the medication“. Is the happiness just as fake as the bell hanging in the middle of the room which will never ring because it’s empty inside?
Crossing personal boundaries
She grabs the bell and walks in a circle, then she lets the bell go. The bell is pretty close to everybodys face and it feels pretty dangerous in this very moment, but in reality the bell could never touch the audience. Driscoll plays a game with the audience. It’s about expectations, crossing personal boundaries and of course interaction.
So yes, a lot will happen on stage, but not everything you expect will happen and things you won`t expect will happen as well. For example, the stage is bigger then expected. Driscoll opens up the stage as she enters the auditorium.
The space between things
Some of the spectators will hold her hand, she will roll her head in their hands, she will be dancing on a stage in the corner. And she will always recreate the movement in using the audience members‘ memory. They already know what to do. How to hold her head while her body moves slowly forwards. With loops of her own voice in howling, breathing heavy and by making the audience stomp she will create sounds and recreate moments. Favorite moment: When she steps in miked shoes and walks pretty slow. Her steps sound like a giant moving towards the audience, like great sadness, like Driscoll conquering the space.
And she knows how to conquer it! Explained in her own words, Driscoll is „interested in the space between things, the unknown space between two knowns, charging that up and making that activated, inside the body“. True. Also true: This is not the end of the performance, what makes it so special. After letting go all her emotions in a deafening, capturing performance she rings a (real) bell. By presenting objects and organs she shows the absence of a person who passed away. In an interview, Driscoll mentioned that her mothers death was her central inspiration for the performance.
We cannot escape it like we couldn`t escape Driscoll being absent and present at the same time. The piece continues when we leave the venue. We see scenes of crime and martyrdom, a skeleton smiling at us and then we understand how overwhelming the performance was.
Faye Driscolls „Thank you for coming: Space“ took part in Tanz im August 2022 on the 24th until the 27th of august at Sophiensaele. Reviews and interviews about the festival on Kulturschoxx.de