Thursday, August 30, 2012

Top Ten Clarifications of The Human Body Project (In Which I Review My Own Show)

Participant art from 2012 Victoria Fringe.
Here and there I get scattered information about how conversations are going about The Human Body Project at this year's Victoria Fringe. Plus there are other reviews by actual reviewers (see recent posts). Plus I hear and see people during the performances.

I'm inspired to write my own "review" in the form of a Top Ten list addressing some of these comments so that I might add some clarification.

There are two more shows, by the way. Saturday noon-1:30 and Sunday 4-5:30 in Venue 4, Wood Hall.

10. It's important to reiterate that I show up naked and unscripted on purpose to be vulnerable and to share that experience of vulnerability with the audience.

I have very strong reasons why I do this, which I have written about extensively and with some academic acclaim. Sometimes, in my shows, I am able to articulate fairly well why I have made this creative decision, sometimes not so much. I am, after all, feeling very vulnerable and when I am feeling vulnerable I am often not especially articulate.

The point, for me, is not how well I explain myself but to show up as vulnerably as possible.

I also have written and talked extensively about how nakedness and unscriptedness are indeed difficult and challenging for me and a good guarantee that I will feel vulnerable. The audience is asked to believe me. I have no control over whether they believe I am feeling vulnerable or not.

9. My intention to share vulnerability with my audience is directly related to my intention to create a healing/transformational experience. I am interested in providing an experience that may offer clues to how we may be better humans because, right now, I think we are extremely unskilled and we are leaving a planet of shit for the next generations.

I have children. To me, this is urgent.

While I have my own personal issues that cause me discomfort and pain when people don't "get" it or reject my work, my braver self is pretty okay with bothering, irritating, and troubling my audiences.

I'm also very happy when people are moved to feel deeper emotion and connection.

It's been said before, The Human Body Project is a Rorschach. I have no control over audiences' expectations and reactions.

All Human Body Project performances are unique, and these last four performances at the 2012 Victoria Fringe have felt really different to me. My own "preference" is to have an experience that feels like there has been some kind of deep, heartful connection, within myself and between me and my audience and between audience members. But just because I feel like an experience has been deep has no bearing on how audience members experience it. The recent fringe show that felt deepest for me was reviewed, the gist being that the show wasn't entertaining and would be better if maybe I told more stories or directed the experience more.

8. Yes, the audience is a player and co-facilitator. I could write more here about shifting the paradigm of domination but words are slippery and confusing. I show up naked, unscripted, a human being in a vulnerable body feeling vulnerable, and other human beings are there with me and we see what unfolds.

I do have a lot of stories and sometimes I tell them, but it's more important to me that the experience be whatever it is, whatever is created in the moment by whomever is there. For me, this is another area where I deal with intense vulnerability--I may be letting the experience unfold but I'm also responsible for holding the space.

People often do get naked with me. They do so for their own reasons.


Some have penises. Some have beautiful breasts.


Participant art from 2012 Victoria Fringe.
7. Words are important and words are divisive and words get in the way and words are still important. I am often dissatisfied when there is a lot of talk but people also need to talk and it's important to let them talk. It's a dilemma.

6. It's messy. And flawed. And I'm okay with that. Well, as okay as a middle-aged, Anglo, white woman from Canada can be. In other words, the middle-aged, indoctrinated white woman that I am is uncomfortable but the artist/teacher has made a worthwhile creative/pedagogical decision. My discomfort with the lack of agenda adds to my personal vulnerability. But it is also my vision of the way the world needs to move. Linear, "rational," compartmentalized thinking got us where we are now.

5. I am enacting a kind of protest or dissidence. My protest or dissidence is not only directed at my world/society/Western culture, it is directed at myself. I am unable to separate myself from the harm this culture creates. I am coming from a place of privilege protesting my own privilege, protesting my own "lifestyle"--like I have any choice about whether I drive a car or live in a single-family house or participate in the banking system or use energy to heat my home!

Kudos to working mothers who ride their bikes to work and grow vegetables and have never been to McDonald's. I am not up to it. The people I know who live off the grid are upper-middle class.

4. It's not really about me. My work is about creating systemic/cultural/neurobiological change. My own pain and personal issues are quite comprehensive and maybe even worth making a fringe show about but it wouldn't be this show. This show is about how my pain intersects with the planet's pain and offers a modality for moving forward.

3. It's not really about you either. It's about us in relation to each other, our own selves and the planet.

2. I am brave. I have a great capacity for sensitivity and deep feeling. I have great wisdom. I am a bearer and processor of the planet's pain. It's amazing that I'm still alive. I have found that there is no place in this culture where these qualities are valued. In fact, not only are these qualities not valued, I feel extremely vulnerable simply writing these sentences. 

I am so fucking out there, right?! If I could figure out a better way to deliver my wisdom, I would do it.

1. Naked body. The medium is the message. It is what it is. 

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