On a stage, there's a spotlight on a tripod on the left, facing right, and on the right is a bulky structure like a raised bed that's draped with piles of curtains and fabric panels. Sitting in the midst of the drapery is a young man with frizzy black hair down to his shoulders, and a faint moustache and beard. Only his head and neck are protruding from the pile of fabrics. Behind him, mostly obscured by the headboard of the bed-like structure, is a standing woman with short brown hair combed down over her forehead and ears. He and she are both staring straight ahead with solemn expressions.
When they speak, they do so at the same time, echoing each other's words, and as they speak they look about them and start to dismantle the bed, which is actually nothing more than a series of white metal clothes racks draped with curtains.
I’m thinking of curtains and textures, hung and segmented, concealing and framing the room.
He climbs down from among the fabrics and she takes some more curtains from the back of the tall rack that she's standing behind before stepping down to the floor. They're both wearing flowing, sleeveless robes made from red velvet curtains, but hers is a deeper, richer red and his is more muted.
I propose not a method of working, but a space to work in that encapsulates methods. Imagining the studio as a flexible location, where imaginary walls, windows, floors, roofs, et cetera, can be created and deleted intuitively. We can divide the space.
They move in an almost dream-like state, removing the different sheets of fabric from the metal racks that made up the bulky, bed-like structure.
We draw squares, circles, triangles, et cetera, in our minds and define a method that exists within each one. Sometimes the spaces and methods may exist within our bodies. We attempt to define them so specifically that it is possible to live out a complete life within each one. Within them exists sustenance, free healthcare and a positive carbon footprint.
He detaches a curtain in earthy tones that's attached with velcro to the tallest rack that formed the headboard. She removes a pink satin curtain draped over one of the lower racks near the front.
Each one can be a stage, a theatre, a studio, a bedroom, a kitchen, a park, et cetera. Entering one is a completely involving experience, where there is no recollection of the past spaces, all energy and attention is directed in the current, towards the present.
When carrying each curtain towards the front of the stage, they either drop it in a heap or fold it and place it down.
Yellow wallpaper. I suddenly arrived in a Spaghetti Western. You'll probably think straight through their words and not realise that it is an acrostic poem. Don't worry, most people do. And when you're at home, you'll say, "I was confronted by that thing in the gallery."
He stands a rack upright that was resting on its side, then rolls the tallest rack from the back to the front.
"You know nobody believes that story, Danny", Edgar gasps, walking onto the stage, wearing a bike helmet and two pairs of pants, one on the top and one on the bottom. I know nobody believes that story. That is why I am such a good storyteller. To not believe is to think about the story long enough to decide you don't believe it.
He smooths his hair back from his face, then he's suddenly back at the back of the stage, holding the tallest rack again. She takes a draped cloth from one of the lower racks, then joins him at the back.
I've always found you very powerful. Martha's voice booms over the loudspeaker. She quickly realises that she started her text in the wrong scene. Her face goes red and she panics at the lost time.
They wheel the tallest rack between them to the front of the stage, dragging it over the curtains they've already piled there.
I laughed. Purple paint starts to seep out of the cement. It reads: I've always believed in saying sorry before you do something wrong. It's like buying insurance.
They tip the rack onto its side and each of them drapes a dull-coloured curtain from the pile onto the end of the rack closest to them.
You're startled because that's what you were just thinking because before you came to the theatre you had a fight with your mum, over the phone, and you walked out without apologising and you've been ruminating over it for the last 45 minutes. You know you should leave it all at the door, Angelica.
They fetch another of the racks between them and wheel it to the front, leaving it upright just behind the one they turned on its side.
Edgar sits on the edge of the stage and his feet dangle in the water. He looks straight at you, "I wanted to take my mum there too." He fans his face profusely even though it isn't hot, it's cold. "I wanted her to see how real it was."
She kneels at the racks at the front while he starts detaching a thickly textured green curtain from one of the two racks left at the rear, but then she faces him and gets up as their synchronised chatter becomes a conversation.
WOMAN: If I were to pass through you, I would suppose I might end up on the other side.
MAN: That isn't necessarily true, you could always end up somewhere else. Do you have any idea how much I have contained inside myself?
She fetches a green plastic chair from the back of the stage, behind the racks at the rear, and brings it to the front.
WOMAN: I have considered this, yes. I have theorised that my passing through your contained landscapes and environments would counteract my contained landscapes and environments. They would line up like predictable lines on a graph and eliminate one another.
He takes the final curtain from the rack at the rear and drapes it over the textured green curtain that he just hung over the racks at the front.
MAN: That sounds similar to the way noise-cancelling headphones work.
WOMAN: Well, how do they work?
She rolls the spotlight on its tripod into the centre of the stage and he hands her one of the remaining two racks at the rear, which she positions alongside the others at the front.
MAN: Something to do with the way that they hear the sound waves coming and produce sound waves that counteract the waves of the other. So if the wave was three V's, they would be countered with three A's. Eliminating the outside noise.
He brings the final rack to join the group at the front, then turns it on its side.
WOMAN: So you're saying if I passed through you I'd be eliminated.
MAN: No, I just mean if you pass through me it sounds like, with your theory, you'd be much safer on the other side.
She overturns the rack on its side at the front of the group, knocking the curtains off it.
WOMAN: Ah, it is my theory after all.
MAN: No one said it wasn't.
She takes down the curtains remaining on the racks at the front while he moves the spotlight across to the right.
WOMAN: Our words pass through each other to reach each other.
MAN: Only if we talk...
WOMAN: But only if we talk...
BOTH: ..at the same time or type at the same time.
WOMAN: Good point.
She starts to rearrange the empty racks again, attaching the textured green curtain to the rack on the far right. He stands up the one she overturned.
WOMAN: Perhaps we as individuals are just filters, filters, filters.
MAN: You must be relatively open to filters as you always consistently seem very clear to me.
He brings the tallest rack towards the right, and she moves the one now draped in green even further to the right. Their conversation shifts back to the simultaneous speech where each mirrors the other.
I wonder how you would begin to fall through meta-levels of text. I suppose the first avenue would be to decide if you would speak it out loud or in your head.
He moves the other racks to the right as well, and she begins to drape them in curtains.
And then the question is, how many people will say it. Perhaps the whole room. Perhaps just you. Then maybe just the two of us. For it to be spoken, though, the whole thing would need to be in quotation marks. Let's add them now.
She adjusts the height of the tallest rack, shortening the telescopic poles on each side. He drapes curtains on the rack on the left of the group.
"I suppose then this would be the beginning, the first layer, the cream surface of the cake. I wouldn’t know how to delve into the deeper one. Maybe the easiest way is to continue where we left off, and end the quotation marks."
He carries a pale cloth to the rack on the far right, draped in green, and adds it as another layer. She wheels the shortened rack between two others.
I believe that would suffice to enter another layer, as we've both ended and started, but have never moved from the same point.
She attaches a row of different coloured curtains along the tallest rack while he leans pensively on one of the lower ones, his chin resting on his hand.
It is in this way I believe stillness can be effective. Sometimes there is no need to travel through things when they can easily be navigated inside of the head. But if it is contained inside of the head, it can become misinformed.
Breaking out of his reverie, he resumes adjusting curtains and moving racks around.
The decay of memory begins occurring at the same instant the memory is created. You will never remember anything as well as you used to. And this leads to the next stage - denial.
He adjusts the rack at the rear, then helps her bring one of the front racks around behind it.
If I were to deny everything I have written above, I'd find myself in a predicament, for I need these earlier statements to confirm my travelling through the layers. But to deny them would perhaps be diving deeper.
As they move around the racks, they each make a little skip, then resume their methodical rearrangement of the racks.
Regardless of whether or not this is effective in terms of progression, I am not allowed to delete or backspace or backtrack. It is like life in a way. Everything you put out stays there.
They start unloading heaped curtains from the most heavily draped rack, putting them either on the floor or on other racks.
Ironically, in relation to memory, everything you contain decays. But when it comes to writing, this point is contradictory.
They move the upright racks around by wheeling them on their castors. She arranges them next in groups of two, and he rolls the spotlight's tripod a little to one side.
As we must assume, for the sake of the document, that everything we scribe is practically eternal, thanks to its ensured digital existence.
They pick up the curtains piled on the floor and hang them over the racks.
This writing does not provide the information necessary to travel through the meta levels of reality. Writing is just writing. Lines on a page, a screen, a wall. The process of meta occurs within the mind, it always has. So everything read on this page becomes lost to it and I am inside of your head. I am swirling. I am nibbling on your memories of what the beginning of the page was. I cannot remember either, as my process of nibbling is not consumption, but deletion.
She wheels the spotlight around behind the racks so that its light is obscured by the layered drapes. They switch back to taking turns in the conversation.
WOMAN: I suppose then if I pass through you...
MAN: I'd get stuck in the centre of your drippy components.
She ducks out of sight behind a curtained rack and he pauses just as he's about to hang another drape.
WOMAN: The ones that glue and bind. Not fixed in a harsh way but fixed in a mode of compliance.
She emerges again, appearing to part invisible curtains with her arms, and he hangs the drape he was holding while she starts to take others down.
And all of the walls and all of the doors become ceaseless in their existence and their appearance.
BOTH: So we can and can't see them.
They start moving the racks around again, exposing the spotlight at the rear. She grips the spotlight's tripod and faces him while they converse.
WOMAN: Well, I suppose seeing and not seeing are the same thing. To not see is to have imagined the thing you would have seen, is to see it.
MAN: Don't you think this is the same way as things work in the bones congealed together to travel up the hills inside of the body, all of the sand you could possibly hold?
She returns to the racks and slides one of the taller ones from the back to the front. He moves a shorter one aside to make way.
WOMAN: It depends what kind of depth you contain and that probably correlates in some way to your personality.
MAN: Suppose if I passed through you now, perhaps I'd end up back at the beginning if I felt my way out through an exit.
They move the other two racks forward as well, and to the left.
WOMAN: That could be true, except my insides might be made entirely of exitless doors.
MAN: I'd find a window then.
They switch back to their joint monologue, echoing each other as they keep readjusting the positions of the racks and changing the drapes.
Sleet falls down the walls inside of the theatre and the room provides the same sensation you get when you're walking through a rainforest and the air suddenly gets damper and you look up from your sneakers and you realise you've made it to the waterhole and it isn't a big realisation or anything. It just happens.
He starts attaching a black curtain to one of the low racks, and she detaches it again as she passes.
There is something dizzying about the way that lights frame the body, you think, as you sit there anxiously scratching the carpet-felt chair. Whoever designed public furniture was really excelling in ideas of the banal, you think.
She walks away again and he reattaches the black curtain to the rod at the top of the rack. She slides the racks behind him into a different configuration.
God, I wish my legs weren't sticking and itching like this, you think. The light changes and you stand up. You become foamy seas as you sit in your seat for two reasons. Firstly, because you were a part of the stationary crowd and secondly, because your element is earth and the colour green doesn't match your skin tone.
He adjusts the black curtain along its rack as she wheels the tallest rack behind him, heavily draped with thick fabrics.
It's funny how everything turns out this way, how everything keeps coming to the surface as though the stage were an opera and it could unfold even during the patchy part where Mariah Carey is supposed to close the final scene of the third act but always bails and then Edgar has to do it.
He moves to the back and she takes his place at the black curtain, covering it with a peachy fabric with a floral pattern.
They have never been particularly vocally gifted, but their performance is five stars.
She wheels the tallest rack directly behind the one at the front with the black and peachy layers, then joins him at the rear racks, which they bring forward to meet the others.
You think about a rating system and start to arrange numbers and qualities into a rateable platform for this performance but you give up quickly because one of the performers catches your eye. You think, with a discerning look on your face, why are they talking? Everything comes in layers and layers and layers.
They arrange the racks in a kind of triangle, then adjust the curtains draped over them.
They aren't consuming, they're concealing, aren't they? Aren't they? You turned to look at Stewart but he is passed out in his chair and it seems true that everyone's going to die.
He holds up his left arm as though it's a hanger for something invisible, while with his right he's turning the peachy curtain over onto its more brightly patterned side. Behind him, she moves the spotlight to the left.
My script is my versatility. Cue the light change, thanks, Rosietta. I guess it's about investing in one thing deeply, but then, I don't know, if you invest long enough you're bound to realise that it isn't gold, it's silver.
While draping a sparkly fabric over a rack, she abruptly dips her head then turns away, and he moves the sparkly fabric onto another rack.
And I don't know if I can handle that sort of heartbreak. She was walking down the street and she turned to her friends and said, "I can't imagine living anywhere else." I thought, "Oh, God, I can."
They continue rearranging the curtains, and he shakes one of the low racks as if testing its strength.
But I guess you can't imagine if you don't desire. Someone told me that in an email once. I've been to this building before, I say, walking around the base, carefully, slowly, inspecting all of the familiar cracks and colours...
She helps him adjust the rack that he shook, sliding its telescopic poles upwards until the rack is above head height, but then they bring it back down to the height of their chins and move it a little to one side.
..With my mum and my dad and we watched people sing, we watched people dancing and singing. "So I'm assuming you'll be cheesed out then, cheesed out and cheesed off?"
She moves another curtain while he steps through the tallest rack like it's a doorway.
Martha always makes awful jokes. "Yes, the performance was dreadful," I say, spilling a little bit of my Berocca on my skirt.
He wheels the rack in front of the spotlight that she's moving, and the curtains draped over it are briefly bathed in the spotlight's glare.
The curtain comes down, it may just be tragedy and topography.
He moves a near-empty rack closer to the others, which are laden with drapes, and she moves another outer one in so that the racks are all in a cluster in the centre.
Standing side by side among the racks, they seem at a loss.
Fade to black.
The Curtain Drops (the jig is up) is an attempt to escape its self-induced performative situation. It does so by shifting the mode of presentation laterally to a space where the performer is in enforced complicity to serve the tasks of the work. The curtains and frames act as a metaphor for the process of concealing and revealing that fluctuates between performers and audience. We propose the performative body is fictional because it is not a singularity, it is a multiplicity that exists across platforms, times, and realms.
Rachael Wisby - Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance), 2018
Nasim Patel - Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance), 2018