Fire Drill, by Sally Rousse

Time Had A Job reminded me of Emily Gastineau’s other pieces about work, finance, dance, and art. People can mistake her blunt notice-ings for negative commentary on, for example, life as an independent artist.  They can also mistake her blunt haircut for making her appear to be Chris Yon’s wife, Taryn Griggs.  Both are mistakes, but understandable.

Time Had A Job had Billy Mullaney and Emily, together known as Fire Drill, taking on the conundrum of time and duration and it’s place in performance. They had me at #1: “Interventions in efficacy [the way choreographic work asks to be watched].

I counted 4-one-hundred seconds between lights up and lights down (I hear the choreography was in 6 second intervals). The sound bits were the same length. At times I heard music that matched the moves from 12 bits ago.  I wondered if they had choreographed each bit of music but then randomly mixed it up. That made me like the piece less, seeing it like a college level dance exercise or a clever device piece. So I stopped looking for match-ups because I liked the work before I started trying to figure out the formula.  Why do I do that?  This process of getting back to letting myself like the piece took about 8 more bits before I could let go and enjoy it again.

Then there was the obligatory spoof on ballet, so I had to pause and scoff again.  When will Emily ever get over her traumatic ballet experiences? Why does ballet treat smart people like Emily so badly? When will people stop doing that over-the-top ballet face and earnest arm gestures like sugar decoration on a cake that no one actually wants to eat? What is ballet anyhow? I can’t recall.  Do I know anything?  If so, when did I stop watching the piece and start questioning myself?

I’m watching Chanel houndstooth garbed humans making simple movements hilarious and it’s making me wonder so many things, like how long it took them to craft the piece, how did they choose the sound, what did they discard—and can I see that?  I’d really like to see what got thrown away, not used in performance. How long did they spend making the piece and where will it go next.

Emily has this uncanny ability to be wholly in the moment.  You can imagine that she is thinking “whoa those babies crying makes me want to crawl into a shell so I won’t be blamed!” and her subtle snears never cease to entertain me. Sure, Billy rocks the unitard and has energy for days.  But Emily looks like she is coming up with it and feeling it in the moment. They’re a good match, very watchable.

Duration. How long could I have watched them? Not much longer than I did. If they had been sneaky and played with time, slightly adding or taking away milliseconds, that might keep me interested longer. Or if the tempo of every single bit were more extremely varied, extremely slow or super fast, for example. As it was, the tempos were real time for the most part, real human being time.  Not superhuman fast or epic, ancient slow. Maybe if the distance between one another increased I would have a different sense of time. Keeping the 6-second rule but manipulating it more to fool us. How much can you fit into 6 seconds?  How can 6 seconds feel like and eternity, is that even possible?

Time Had A Job is the quintessential example of a Red Eye Works-in Progress piece: solid, thought-out, with places to go, things to get done, in time.

Fire Drill, Time Had a Job

Works-in-Progress, Red Eye Theater

May 29-June 1, 2014

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