SOFT LIGHT CREEPS IN FROM STAGE LEFT. TENSE PLASTIC NETS THAT CARESS AND RECEIVE. (WE RECITED POSSIBILITIES ALOUD. WE MADE CHARTS.)
SALYER + SCHAAG
This multimedia performance combines philosophy, religious cults, jellyfish imagery, and Meat Loaf music to explore resonant and sinister connections between desire, obsession, intellectualism and religion. Reverend, a sinister snake oil salesman, and Snake, a seductive magician/hypnotist, give a lecture performance that slowly transitions into a nightmarish enactment of cult culture.
The scene: an ornate conference ballroom. Two podiums; projection of jellyfish imagery behind the podiums; soft, dreamy light. Binaural beats play throughout the performance, slowly increasing in volume. Throughout the duration of the piece, the two performers seek to hypnotize the audience.
In Part 1, “The Pleasure of the Text,” Snake and Reverend each stand behind a podium, addressing the audience. Their academic lecture performance about desire and textuality is a mashup of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Will to Power, Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text, and Helene Cixous’ The Laugh of the Medusa.
In Part 2, “Your deepest desires are thick and textured, resonant and tender,” Reverend and Snake leave the lecterns, moving throughout the entire space of the conference ballroom, transitioning from academic lecturers to religious cult leaders. They run throughout the space, increasing the energy in the room. Occasionally they jump on an empty auditorium chair for emphasis. They position themselves in close proximity to, and speak directly to, individual audience members. Their text is a mashup of Jim Jones’ suicide tape transcript from the Jonestown Massacre (1978), Shintaro Katsu’s film Shogun Assassin (1980), and original SALYER + SCHAAG text.
In Part 3, “Anything for Love,” Meat Loaf’s song “I’d Do Anything for Love” begins to play. Reverend and Snake begin to dance, in a deadly serious, fluid, graceful style. When the song is over, they return to their lecterns and make concluding remarks.
We wrote and performed this work in November 2013 in Milwaukee, WI, for “Festival of Language: The Art of Hybridity,” an auxiliary conference of the Midwest Modern Language Association’s Annual Convention. The performance took place in a conference ballroom.