With Preludes and Fugues we had an interest in investigating the line between performing and non-performing, between invisibility and presence, and also to exploring the notion of performance as task, i.e., a series of things that you do onstage. This investigation stems from my experience of watching performance and finding the stagehand the most watchable performer. Theatrical convention supports the fiction that the stagehand is invisible (or somehow unworthy of being viewed), hence the full-length blacks, the changes that occur in darkness or semi darkness. But of course they are really visible. What makes stage technicians so watchable is their (absolute) focus on the task at hand - to be completed as efficiently as possible so as to exit the performing area quickly and retreat to the comfortable safety of the wings or the green room. We wanted to dispel this fictional invisibility and place the technician squarely on the stage under the gaze of the audience. But how does one set about to make a performance from this?
I assembled a working group of performers who also work regularly in a technical capacity and over the last four weeks we have been trying to find a performative frame for these notions. What we have found ourselves performing is a strange "choreography of labour" - real work in real time. What we had not anticipated is that it would become so comical. We have ended up with a deadpan minimal slapstick, somewhere between the Marx Brothers and Gravity Feed. In a sharp contrast to the frenetic energy of Where the garment gapes, the action of Prelude and Fugues is often simple to the point of stillness, but somewhere in the gaps and gazes between the performers and the task at hand we have found a strange pleasure.
- David Williams, version 1.0, September 1999
This production premiered at the Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville, on September 25, 1999.
Devised and performed by: Craig Anderson, Stephen Klinder, Rohan Thatcher and David Williams
with special assistance from Johann Sebastian Bach & Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Sound operation: Tanglia Hansson
Front of House: Jane Parkin
Music by: JS Bach and Michael Jackson
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