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Viv Vassar

first performed on June 8, 2015
Mobius, Cambridge, MA
performed three times in 2015


Staten Island, NY


“A Lucky Break” was created as an interactive exchange to stimulate people to consider something they desired. At the onset of the performance I explained to the audience that the use of wishbones dated back over 2,400 years based on the belief that fowl could predict the future. I then asked for volunteers to come forward to break a wishbone with me.

As people came up I asked them if they had ever participated in breaking a wishbone and explained to them the proper wishbone breaking procedure (using the small finger wrapped around the wishbone and then pulling, after you have decided on your wish). We then broke the bone together.

I am excited by the use of chance in performance—that though I set up the action even I can’t predict the outcome—and so, I thought the wishbone breaking would fulfill that. However, for whatever reason, it turned out that the wishbones always broke in my favor, even though I tried different holds (tight/loose) and pulling actions (fast/slow). When I was constantly the winner of the break the action started to feel too predictable and the mood of the participants seemed to become skeptical. Thus, I adapted the performance and gave the bone to two participants to have them perform the ritual together.

“A Lucky Break” made people more aware of the history of a ritual that has happened for centuries and at the same time gave them a moment to contemplate how their world could be better. Most participants had broken a wishbone before but did not know how the tradition had begun. While it is a superstitious action, I believe that the people who broke the bones were given hope that what they most wished for would now have a better chance of occurring.