The Coincidental Hour

I did a terrible performance last weekend

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I often fantasize about doing a performance where I don’t prepare anything, or think about what I’m going to do and I only use whatever equipment I find in the room. Just get onstage, look at the audience, and go.

There have been a few occasions where I’ve attempted something along these lines with the Coincidental Hour. Just try to tap into some bullshit performance magic. And even though I think it can work to a certain degree when restricted entirely to  language – like a David Antin talk or a Michael Basinski reading – I’m finally ready to believe that a completely open field improvisation of the Coincidental Hour, one that wrestles an aesthetically pleasing composition out of thin air, is not possible.

I hope this past weekend was my final lesson in understanding that putting in labor yields far better results than relying on magic. I blew it at PS1 on Saturday trying to force a last minute show with no time to prepare. Usually, I come up with some marks to hit, things to say, stunts to attempt. But even when I had some time before the show to work on an outline, I decided this was an opportunity to pull off an effortless improvised fantasia performance, guided only by impulse and experience.
It was bad. The words I said, mostly stuttered or chewed up, were dull. My movements were strained and my real time ideas were real shitty. Everyone else on the bill was great, and my last minute collaborator Anastasia Clarke did what she could to keep me from drowning. But I drowned in that frightening sea of structurelessness, not scripted enough to rely on material, not nestled comfortably enough in a prepared environment (of sound/light/objects) to be able read the crowd and the space as living score.

At any rate, I’m actually a little glad I bombed. Believing in magic was making me lazy.

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