Vera enters the black box space through heavy black curtains, tied in a chest harness with ropes, the end of which I am holding. I am still standing behind the curtains.
People stand around (the seating area is closed off) as she inches further into the crowd, while I sing a sort of deconstructed version of to yasemi from behind the curtains (a version of this traditional Cypriot song can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oX4UxcQDN7c).
After a while I emerge as well, and we play together in silence.
Vera dances around me with ropes that eventually weave into a hip harness.
She lifts me.
We offer some rope to the audience.
After some initial skepticism and wry bemusement, our friendly fellow obliges.
He gets the hang of things and doesn’t want to let go. He has made a choice, and this is always exciting for us. We offered him agency, and he accepted; what happens next is now up to all of us. The rest of the public watches carefully.
Vera teases him for a while, offering him her weight, taking it away. He holds on tight. Then she approaches him with another rope (we have 36 metres of it) as if to tie him. With his body language he gives a crystal clear response – NO – and releases her rope. Another choice. Another development.
Now Vera is free to join me in tying other members of the audience (participants) who are happy to be restrained.
These individuals are malleable and accommodating to our various touches and physical manipulations. They keep their eyes more or less lowered as they offer their bodies to the performance. We tie two people, and offer two others the ends of the ropes to hold. Once we’re finished tying they start to feel more in control. They begin to make visual contact with one another. Curious, playful smiles appear.
Vera uses this narrow corridor of ropes and bodies created by the four participants to dance a short improvisation while I sing Morton Feldman’s Only.
Only when flight shall soar / not for its own sake only / up into heavens lonely / silence, and be no more, a translation of Rilke’s O erst dann, wenn der Flug / nicht mehr um seinetwillen / wird in die Himmelstillen / steigen (Sonnets to Orpheus).
Then she disappears behind the curtains, and so do I. The audience remain. The interval begins.
Some moments later we return to untie them. We talk to them about their experiences and reflect together on their part in the show. They are sweet, generous and open in their communication with us.
We thank them, and we all drink beer.