Thursday, October 2, 2014

Be the show: Ivana Müller (and you) at New York Live Arts

Croatian-born Ivana Müller,
choreographer, artist and author of texts,
concludes her unique presentation, We Are Still Watching,
at New York Live Arts tomorrow night.

Made by Ivana Müller in collaboration with Amsterdam-based choreographer Andrea Bozic, Brussels-based artist and theater director David Weber-Krebs and Brussel-bsed dramaturg Jonas Rutgeerts


I was part of the Legendary Reading Group of October 1, 2014.

Sort of. Which means I ended up with all of one line.

Except for the choral part.

Here's what I learned from Ivana Müller's We Are Still Watching.

  1. Arranging a small audience along the sides of a square can foster close observation and intimacy among strangers. If you're lucky.
  2. Selling tickets to people who come to see a show and end up being the show--they take turns reading your script about a group of people coming to see a show who end up being the show--is kind of cheeky. And kind of cool.
  3. Doing this and then later revealing that you "hate participatory theater" is outrageous. Until you explain that the things you hate about audience participation are totally not what your piece is doing.
  4. Not knowing who's going to show up and how they'll behave with your guidelines and your script is risky. And thrilling.
  5. Every audience is its own show, and every show is different.
  6. It works if all sorts of people reading your words have all sorts of accents, some of them a little hard to hear if you're not sitting right next to them. You're an accented foreigner, too. Constantly. Moving yourself and your work from place to place while making a home in two different European cities. And here you are now, showing this piece in New York City. Where every other person, it seems, hails from someplace else.
  7. The words are simple. Got to be. But sometimes, a beautiful surprise: Your "Romeo" and your "Juliet" may end up being the same sex. Or not. Maybe simply two people with foreign accents giggling over the words they mispronounce. Musically, impossibly sweet in the middle of all of this.
  8. Sometimes your audience/listeners/readers will chuckle through the entire thing. It's good for their bodies.
  9. A touch of subversion will flare for mere seconds along with a smidgen of confusion.
  10. Some people may try to "act" their lines, and that will sound funny ha-ha and funny peculiar. Because it's beside the point.
  11. Your Q&A moderator will script the follow-up Q&A and have it read by people who are neither you nor him. Happily, this cutesiness will not last long.
  12. The script is not as important to you as how people appropriate it.
  13. This work is "very choreographic." The voice, traveling.
  14. Sometimes people who do not know each other go for drinks afterwards.
  15. "Clearly marked with what is about to happen," the script "creates a frame in which everyone is exactly the same."
  16. This has some source, you suggest, in social change happening in the Netherlands, one of two places you call home.
  17. The New York Times will declare it all "disappointingly banal." Because. And of course. And...Next!!!

Be a part of the Legendary Reading Group of October 3, 2014. Tickets for the final evening of We Are Still Watching--this Friday at 8pm--are here.

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Manhattan

For details on FIAF's 2014 Crossing the Line Festival, which runs through October 20, click here.

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