Fire Drill’s Time Had a Job, by Theresa Madaus

This piece was the Internet, fashionably cloaked in houndstooth. I don’t think I need to say more.

Very well, I will anyway. The Internet in this case was the bodies of Emily Gastineau and Billy Mullaney (Fire Drill) combined with a relentless sound and light score. The houndstooth unitards were just icing on the cake. Since the Internet is also icing on the cake, I rest my case.

Ten seconds of something, performed to ten seconds of something else, a continuous soundscore of sound bytes, pop culture references and history. This is my ADD, if I had it. If I were hipper, I’d be able to track all the references. I’m not hip. I let the noise wash over me. (As it is, I watch all the videos, all the way through, despite my incredibly slow wireless speed. I am only now learning to skip the ads 10 seconds in.) Were these ads, then, for an incessant modernity?

No, the sound was more in a world of history, memory, past memes. The movements were in the now, sometimes referencing memes, sometimes adding humor, sometimes insisting on arbitrary juxtaposition, and sometimes making commentary. This was not advertisement.

(I realize later that it was not 10 seconds. It was 6. Time had a job. It was to regulate. But time is always elusive, slippery. The regularity was evident, even if the duration was not.)

Transitions are everything. This piece sought to have no transitions. (Is that what it’s like to have ADD? Blink. Novelty. Blink Blink. Novelty.) Timing is everything. I thought of the Mikhail Baryshnikov piece where he’s leaping through the air, illuminated only when aloft, plunged into darkness before each landing. A strobe effect of perfect leaps.

This was not perfect. This was live performance. I noticed the glow of the almost-out light fading on still moving bodies, sometimes with enjoyment, sometimes with a half-desire for Mikhail’s ballet-god-perfection. If I were watching Baryshnikov I might have a perverse desire for him to fuck up. Live performance is a bitch.

I had several thwarted desires- moments I could have sat with longer. Rigor, however, does not waste its time with my whims. And Fire Drill is nothing if not rigorous. This was the steely hand of the clock, ticking on with analog precision in a digital age, simultaneously unrelenting and more interesting than the mysterious shift of glowing red numbers.


Fire Drill, Time Had a Job

Works-in-Progress, Red Eye Theater

May 29-June 1, 2014



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