I used to make lists.
I used to organize ideas and to-dos in varying degrees of obsession. I used the Evernote app on my iPhone along with texts to myself, little hints and reminders on social networking sites, voice memos, emails to myself, in my paper planner, on a spreadsheet, in a Word doc, in my notebook, on a Post-it®. Thomas Jefferson was a great list maker and he had a brilliant way to make his OCD sound like poetry. My lists are more like prose.
For some reason I’ve stopped making lists.
I don’t know if I am suffering from this due to my waning attention span or what (thanks internet). For someone who lives so much in their head, it is a hard job to find a comfortable space to put all these thoughts. Since my arrival in Europe I have tried to shed my patriotic sense of urgency that is indicative of east coast dwellers. It is not easy.
Lists, much like vacuum lines on a carpet, can be orgasmic to a control-freak like me. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of absorbing information and recording it in unorthodox ways. This is something I have always done as an artist, expressing intent through different media. But something has changed in me. I have become lax in my obsession for perfection or the right way. Exacting is not longer a way of life.
Since I am in the pre-flight phase of so many unrealized projects, I am left smarting by the lack of tangible outlets. I am that squirrel storing up the succulent feast that is to come and all the hard work I have to endure is making me hungry.
I just stumbled upon an old file where I was sketching out the skeleton of the plot for a new duet I was composing for my friend/colleague Megan and myself. She had recently been drafted into The Peek-a-boo Revue, a burlesque troupe I was doing choreography and direction for in the mid 2000s. She was the first solid Modern dance compatriot I had in the group so I immediately jumped on the chance to work with her outside of the burlesque stage.
It was a burlesque act in a way (like most of my work, in a way), that I wanted to present to a broader audience and it was a performance art piece that I wanted to use for the burlesque show. I had the idea in my head that I wanted to satirize a combination of French Mime and Kabuki Theater. In an effort to appreciate either one I failed miserably and thought it just to make fun of them.
The way I wrote the sketch was not common for me during that time circa 2006. When I was writing for the burlesque show it was mostly done organically (sans the scriptwriting) with ideas being tossed hither and tither amongst all of us until we came up with some semblance of a good act. At the time I was loving what I was doing but craved to be doing more “serious dance” – an attitude coerced by the then public perception of burlesque. Crafting this overtly structured outline was my way indulging in self-contained over achievement.
We performed a pumped up version of the Mime Duo for The Peek-a-boo Revue using a lot of farce, a little striptease, and some classical music and it received a good response. It was called “charming” and “funny” and “playful”. The response at the art gallery where I staged its watered down debut was a little more timid, as if the audience was expecting there to be some secret buried beneath the performance that was supposed to explain something irrevocably deep. I remember that during the gallery show there was a young child, maybe seven or eight years-old. I was nervous and worried about a part of the dance where we get mildly provocative and we stuck up our middle fingers at each other.That certainly made it more entertaining for me and gave me the idea for another act.
Plot Structure/Movement Outline
Part I: The Exposition
(Pantomime, no music)
1: Megan is making celebratory dinner
(Oven, smelling food, setting table, matches, lighting candle, forgot to turn the oven off)
2: DeVo at undisclosed location…calls to apologize for missing dinner.
3: Megan sad and dejected blows out candles and goes to sleep.
4: When DeVo enters, Megan waits to hear “Honey I’m home…” but he is on the cell phone. Megan pretends to go back to sleep
5: DeVo retreats to the TV, it wakes Megan up, she brings him the guitar, and he pushes her away. She tries to console, he pushes her again, and they fight.
Part II: They Had a Fight
1: Dance composition exhibiting male/female power struggle…dance leads up to crucifixion poses on platform “pedestals”.
Part III: The Perpetual Denouement
(Overture to Die Fledermaus)
1: Megan catches DeVo at television, she creeps towards him on stool and is pushed away.
2: Megan gets perturbed and teases him with her body. DeVo relents and sits her down to watch TV with him.
3: Megan steals the remote and makes DeVo beg like a dog, forces him to dance with her, puts their stools together, and mimes “one channel” and begins to enjoy the television to DeVo’s chagrin.
4: DeVo comes up with the idea to dance Megan (in order to spin her around until she is dizzy and disoriented) so he can steal the remote back.
5: Megan regains herself and steals the remote and breaks it. DeVo cries in horror, Megan tries to console to no avail, they take their stools to each end of the stage, then go and sit on their “pedestals”.
6: Loving glances tug-o-war…push each other away. DeVo gets up to dance for Megan.
7: DeVo invites Megan to dance but before they start DeVo takes a call. Megan does sad dance movements, then grabs DeVo and mimes “We need to talk!”.
8: DeVo prompts Megan to go to her stool so they can talk via email.
9: After the email fight, Megan goes back to her pedestal to play the guitar. She writes a song and brings the lyrics to DeVo who has put his headphones on. He balls up the song and throws it away. Megan retrieves it and puts it away.
10: Megan brings the guitar to DeVo and he pushes it away. Megan walks off and mimes “Goodbye”, DeVo runs after her and says “Honey, I’m home!”.
Part IV: Love, or Something Like it
(Rue St. Vincent – Yves Montand)
1: Balletic dance where DeVo rediscovers his passion and starts writing songs again.