Inside the beast

Leanne Hall on Journey to Con-fusion #3

Journey to Con-fusion #3: Not Yet It's Difficult and Gekidan Kataisha

Journey to Con-fusion #3: Not Yet It's Difficult and Gekidan Kataisha

Through the smoky haze in a twilight space there are people with no names and eyes that don’t seem to see. This place lies beneath words and thoughts, and if you are looking for sense there is none to be made. Ghosts, the raw, concentrated people before you are walking the edge of a precipice, waiting to be startled, recoiling at the slightest movement.

When they sit in chairs they fall backwards, looking at an absent sun, the backs of the chairs arching their spines, conjuring grasshoppers rubbing between skin and ribs. They flap, they gasp, necks straining, fish caught too far from the cooling sea. They sit bolt upright, breath drawn loudly to the back of the throat, flight in their bodies and eyes.

What are you so afraid of? Where do you think you’re going?

A clamour of music issues a loud invitation to dance. A man romances his battered suitcase across the room, fixing it with a besotted gaze before stopping to laugh at its Pandora depths. Around him a mad circus of movement revolves without pattern. Two men, with stature and dignity, hold each other firmly and waltz majestically around the room. A girl in a full-skirted dress is hounded by her double pecking fretfully at her hem; still others dance in a whirligig of hysteria. Everything in this place is reduced to neurosis, carbon-copied so many times it becomes a tic, a spiralling cocoon that you can’t break out of.

She embraces him, folds him with tender arms into the smooth hollow of her neck. And then she grabs him by the hand and flings him headlong into the wall, where he is pinned loudly before sliding limply and heavily to the floor. She lifts him gently, letting him melt childishly against her chest, and then throws him brutally at the wall, over and over in a merry-go-round of love and hate. But soon she infects even herself with this madness and they both hurtle together violently, animals in a cage. They could be trying to escape unseen terrors, or they could be trying to enter a Paradise just visible through the glass, but maybe they don’t know what they are doing at all.

If I bind your face in cloth, making you deaf and blind and dumb, and remove your clothes to shame you, are you still human? Or will you roll across the floor, willy-nilly, handcuffs clenched behind your back, scaring those don’t want to see you too close? Will you prance angrily in your high-heeled shoes, flicking your bangled arm out in frustration so many times it becomes nothing more than a compulsion?

There is a man with a granite face, wearing a silky grey dress with heaviness and dignity. He carries a metal bar in his powerful hands, rolls it across the floor with the soles of his feet. He could be by your side in a split-second. Behind you, someone is walking slowly past your chair, trailing audibly against the walls and softly brushing your clothes.

People tilt and swerve, running to clap up against each other in a cymbal crash of skin, grappling like wrestlers, colliding like old lovers. It’s not possible to know who is a protector and who is a predator. You can smell their sour sweat as it trickles fear.

Peel yourself gladly from this unrestful dream and relax. Unfurl your fingers, set your heart ticking metronomically. Rise to the surface and feel the breath held in the small of your back, tucked under your ribs and around your stomach. Breathe again.

Journey to Confusion #3, Not Yet It’s Difficult & Gekidan Kaitaisha, Dancehouse, Melbourne, Next Wave, May 18-22.

RealTime-NextWave is part of the 2002 Next Wave Festival

RealTime issue #49 June-July 2002 pg. 4

© Leanne Hall; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 2002