song by the necessary stage
4 aug 2001
I can't tell you what SILENT SONG is about. And for sure, the publicity material about a dialogue between the living and the dead won't help much. There was a sense of the mechanical versus the lyrical, action versus emotion, but I have to say these were merely senses. A potentially symbolic and powerful piece of work, SILENT SONG had startling moments, arresting images, but alas, was lost to a mess of disjointed and incongruous scenes. It's not so much the fact that all four performers have different training and performance background - maybe a little to do with the fact that it was partly choreographed and partly constructed out of improvisation. But perhaps it is more to do with it's being overwhelmed and overtaken by the subject matter - Life? Death? I'd call it Dealing With Inner Demons.
piece was a large cloth with slits across the stage. Chant-like murmurs
filled the black box, eyes appeared through the slits, haunting you with
their intensity. Arms would shoot out through the slits, hands gesturing,
interacting with neighbouring hands, sometimes reaching out towards the
audience as if trying to grab something. Thank goodness for the cloth.
While it brought attention to the performers' eyes staring at the audience,
it also shielded us from their whole bodies and thus their total confrontational
selves. So in this way, the tables were turned against us and yet we were
just as intent at turning it back against the performers by staring back
>>I found myself wondering throughout the performance, "Just what are you trying to say?"'
Throughout the piece, the alternation between hyperactivity and solemnity was striking but it seemed to go on a little too long without development. I hate to ask the question 'What Does It Mean?' since in an abstract expression, an existential attitude matters more than a fixed meaning. But I found myself wondering throughout the performance, "Just what are you trying to say?" But this is a subjective thing, whether or not you get something out of it. During the feedback session, it was clear that there were people who were acutely sensitive to the sense of dehumanisation and intense emotions displayed.
But I stand
by my observation that SILENT SONG lacked coherence. There were ideas,
stories, moments, but no through-line to string them together to be truly