PERFORMANCE FOR ONE
A one-on-one theater performance, presented at a variety of semi-public, semi-private spaces in ten-minute slots for two to six hours per day. The performance was always partially curtained but available to anyone who walked by. Venues included art galleries, bookstores, an installation space on Governors Island, and a street corner.
The performers were a variety of ages, genders, and ethnicities. However, they were all in essence telling a story about the writer, in first person, as if the story was about themself. One question the performance was exploring was how the identity of the performer impacted the unconscious reaction to the story. Also, as there was a moment of hand-to-hand touching, how that identity impacted the moment of physical intimacy.
The first story told was about the author’s father. For those who wished to return for a second performance, there was also a Part II, which was about the author’s mother. The author’s father is deceased and his mother has lost her memory, so the performances were also necessarily about loss and how contact with another person helps us deal with loss.
The subject of both monologues was memory, but even more so, it was about the relationship between performer, audience member, and author. What is the responsibility of the audience member, and how is it felt differently when there is only one audience member? Who is the storyteller, the author or the performer? What happens to a memory that two people share after one of those people is gone?
Audiences came partially by appointment, but there were always slots left open so that audience members could find the performance and spontaneously decide to take part. About half the audience members decided to take part in the moment. Many were not used to the intimacy of this sort of performance, so the first line in the first monologue (which was repeated often) was “You’re doing very well.” Eventually, we found, most of the audience members were able to relax and partake equally. Many found it very emotional.