wild animals . august / by james gnam

Written by Rachel Silver

 

Well, it would be fair to say everything changed today. We held a "beta" run, and experienced the show with a small audience. It was chaotic, surprising, frail, and rich, with pure and beautiful moments. In James’ words, this show is more of a wild animal than a house pet.

Most surprising for me was how human the show felt. The audience members in the space with us were three-dimensional, active, decisive bodies. They were not the passive audience found in a proscenium theatre, which are just rows and rows of faces from the perspective of the stage. They were really there, (embodied), making decisions of where to stand or sit, playing the games, and getting involved.

After the show we gathered as a cast and laughed about all the things that went wrong, or unexpectedly went right. Since the dancing happens in the same space as the audience, sometimes audience members would be sitting or standing exactly where the dance usually occurs. So we danced around people, above and beside people. They became objects to navigate but also potential dance partners.

“It was really of our time,” said one woman after the show as we chatted about which parts stood out to her. She said watching us stare at our smart phones and dance was particularly moving. This sight is so familiar, but takes on new meaning in performance. 

After the show I think about how much care and thought has been put into this show, by James and Natalie and all of us. Yet it has the energetic, casual exterior of a party or a rock show. In that way it is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In the performance we mention concepts of mirroring and digital “folk culture.” We show connection and disconnection between bodies, cognition, and responsiveness. We blur lines between individual and social dance, memory and imagination. The richness and density is palpable, just under the surface. The audience will be the ones to peel back the layers.