After the whirlwind of emotions that EL NACIMIENTO was for me, I had little time before The Journey started. I was contemplating how I would be able to see this new performance with a clear head. But interestingly enough, the two performances seemed to complement each other. It is almost like a deja-vu feeling when you recognize patterns between the experiences you find yourself in.
I don’t even try to hide my excitement, as I place myself in the first row for EL NACIMIENTO. Every day I was hearing about this performance, and so you could say I had some expectations, but there was some intuition telling me this would be a performance I will enjoy and I was ready to take it all in.
Ariah Lester created a truly mesmerizing multi-medial performance. Combining live video aswell as live music and dance with recorded footage, the performers interacted (anddeconstructed) every element present on stage. The way they made use of the propsseemed harmonious and well thought through; you could tell the objects stood as signs forsome bigger idea. Watching the performance, I felt a lot of freedom expressed, and equallyits questionability in a broken globalized world. Be it the journey of woman/man to becomeits authentic self or that of an artistic product; where the only way to gain some sense of“autonomy” or recognition is in the occidental cultural industry, the message remains thesame: We are all captive within a system that subjects us by giving an illusion of freedom or autonomy.
Looking back at The Journey the theme of captivity was conveyed through a more inward approach, dealing with trauma and childhood. The performance was stripped down of anything unnecessary. What remains is an empty stage and just the actress reciting her monologue with closed eyes. This to me was the message, turning inward, closing your eyes to focus in order to visualize the past, that’s the way to free yourself from the “cage” of victimhood.
As spectators, we tend to relate and identify ourselves with the character’s destinies, and I saw the painted eyes on her eyelids aiming at some alienation in the audience, resisting identification. Performing with your eyes closed for 50 minutes surely doesn’t seem like a piece of cake, but the actress made use of other body parts to convey the message and she managed to grasp, at least my attention, with her story through speech and physicality.
At the end of the night I felt content. Not because the performances gave a solution to this problem of captivity, it had more to do with the exploration of the theme. Both evoked a sense of passive observer in times of chaos, giving the idea that maybe, the best thing one can do in times of turmoil is to just take a step back and observe.