Friday, August 3, 2018

Timon of Athens at Bard on the Beach

It was back to Bard on the Beach last night, this time to see the all-female, modern-dress production of Timon of Athens, directed by Meg Roe. Timon is not often performed, and for good reason. It is resolutely dark. It is unevenly written (likely as a result of it having been co-authored by Thomas Middleton, which would also explain the darkness). And it has a thoroughly improbable plot.

Timon, played here with towering intensity and singular vision by the great Colleen Wheeler, is generous in spreading her wealth to an admiring group of friends, who fawn over and flatter her in order to keep the gifts coming. We meet this group in the opening scene, when they arrive at Timon's well-appointed home, which set designer Drew Facey has conceived as a beautiful and sleek modernist jewel. One by one, we meet Lucius (Michelle Fisk), Sempronius (an imperious Patti Allan), and Ventidius (Quelemia Sparrow, doing her best Real Housewives of West Vancouver impression), all kitted out in expensive couture (the amazing costumes are by Mara Gottler). This trio mixes with Timon's servants, PAs Flavius (an excellent Moya O'Connell) and Flaminius (Ming Hudson) and the silent male help (Joel D. Montgrand and Sebastian Archibald, the cops from Lysistrata), and the other guests, including a poet (Jennifer Lines) and painter (Kate Besworth), a late-to-arrive Isidore (Adele Noronha) and Timon's one honest friend, Apemantus (Marci T. House, delivering an unblinkingly truthful performance). With Wheeler's Timon sweeping in on her five-inch heels to bestow and receive air kisses, Roe plays the beginning of this opening scene as an overlapping hubbub of voices, knowing that it doesn't matter what of these characters' empty words we actually hear. Everything in this world is about appearances.

Which is why, when Timon eventually learns from Flavius, who had been trying to warn her, that she is bankrupt and is facing a posse of creditors demanding payment, she attempts to save face by dispatching Flavius and Flaminius to her friends to ask for a loan. Lucius, Ventidius, and Sempronius each spurn her request and in her rage Timon plans a final vengeful dinner party, the occasion here for a succession of coups-de-théâtre. First there is the huge round suspended table that descends from its hiding place in the overhead lighting fixture, and that the help set with expert precision. Then there is the unplating of Timon's surprise main course: bowls of warm water and smoke, one of which she promptly throws in Sempronius' face. That moment elicited a collective gasp from the audience, but it's when Wheeler started tearing up the set, lifting up a succession of floor panels and pulling out the supporting wooden joists to reveal the bare earth underneath that full pandemonium broke out. In Shakespeare's play text, Timon retreats to a cave following the dinner, vowing to spurn society. It's a genius decision on Roe's part to stage this as Timon pulling apart the literal foundations of her world. And Wheeler goes at it with absolute gusto, her white pantsuit becoming stained with earth, and her soignée chignon turning into a riot of rogue curls and loose strands.

Of course this is also where the already bizarre plot of the play becomes truly incredible. For what should Timon discover in the earth underneath her house but a treasure trove of money and gold? By this point, however, Timon is past caring, and in her complete nihilism forswears both financial redemption and, it must be said, the ex machina device of a happy ending. This perhaps explains her final exchanges with Apemantus and Flavius, the former offering simple hard reality in place of pity, the latter just not wanting her boss to die alone. But that is just what Timon does, and unlike in most of Shakespeare's other tragedies there is no attempt to sum up the moral of the story.

That is perhaps why, as Roe suggests in her program notes, the play is such a powerful parable for our own uncertain times. Rapaciousness and falsity are in ascendence everywhere, it seems, and with greatly unequal social consequences. In this stripped-down, 90-minute assault of near unremitting cynicism Roe forces her audience to do two seemingly antithetical things: ask ourselves why we are enjoying watching someone else's misfortune; and challenge ourselves to find even a smidgen of hope amidst all this darkness.

P

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Lysistrata at Bard on the Beach

By yesterday evening Vancouver's recent heat wave had finally abated, and so it was not at all uncomfortable sitting under the tent of the Howard Family Stage at Bard on the Beach with my friend and colleague Melissa Poll. We had gone there to see Lysistrata, which I will be teaching this fall, and which in Bard's production has been adapted by Jennifer Wise and Lois Anderson, who also directs. The comedy's scabrous sexual politics and anti-war message have, for better or worse, remained remarkably timely and on-point in the 2500 years since Aristophanes fist wrote the play (witness the world-wide Lysistrata Project in 2003, to protest the invasion of Iraq, and also Spike Lee's controversial recent film Chi-Raq, which I will be teaching alongside Bard's production). So I was curious how Wise and Anderson's version would make the text speak to our contemporary moment.

Their strategy has been to make this production resolutely local. This performance of Lysistrata is framed meta-theatrically as a play-within-a-play. The Howard Stage's Bard ensemble is meant to be doing an all-female Hamlet, but to protest a proposed plan by the city to expropriate and develop Vanier Park so that it can accommodate a shipping container, the company has hijacked the evening's performance in order to put on an impromptu protest performance of Lysistrata. The set-up for this conceit is wittily established via a bunch of pre-show stage business that also manages to incorporate Bard AD Christopher Gaze's curtain speech. Not everyone in the company, especially Colleen Wheeler, who is meant to be playing Prince Hamlet, is happy about this decision. The framing scenes in which the company--including Luisa Joijic as Lysistrata, Jennifer Lines as Kleonike, Marci T. House as the Spartan Lampito, and Ming Hudson as Myrrhine--argue about whether to continue, and the consequences of doing so, mirror the plot of Aristophanes' play, whose comedy turns on the fact that the women's sex strike is as painful to them as to their husbands. The framing scenes also incorporate the eventual arrival of two local cops (Sebastian Archibald and Joel D. Montgrand), who have come to question company member Adele Noronha, whose on-stage protest she has also extended to include the graffiti tagging of local landmarks. The different degrees of cluelessness of the cops, one of whom turns out to be married to Wheeler (a real-life plot point), leads to a series of lessons in feminist Indigenous pedagogy by company member Quelemia Sparrow, who somewhat uncomfortably to me is cast in the familiar role of the wise Indigenous woman who must educate her settler castmates and the audience about the real history of this place. At the same time, the frame narrative with the cops also occasions a lot of insider jokes not just about Equity theatre (who can and cannot be on stage, and for how long at a time), but about Bard as a company (as Melissa, who spent several seasons acting there herself, leaned over to let me know more than once). The risk here, however, is that the jokes becoming a little too knowing, and so end up excluding a portion of the audience from joining in the laughter.

This, of course, is always the risk of comedy, and especially of the kind of old, or sexually satirical, comedy practiced by Aristophanes. Part of my interest in attending this production of Lysistrata was also seeing how the bawdy jokes would land post-#MeToo, and also in the wake of Hannah Gadsby devastating indictment in Nanette of the very structural premises of comedy as a genre. This production doesn't shy away from those tensions, especially as they play out inequitably for women, who have historically been demeaned both for not being able to tell a good joke and for not being able to take one, no matter how bad or hurtful. In Act Two of this production of Lysistrata there is a noticeable shift in tone. Not only is this the act in which most of the singing and dancing happens (the composer and musical director is Mishelle Cuttler and the choreographer is Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg), but it also tackles head on the implicit sexual violence that underscores the climactic oath of peace that Lysistrata extracts from the men of Athens and Sparta. In Aristophanes' play Peace is incarnated as a beautiful woman, whose body the men jokingly carve up and verbally violate even as they pledge brotherhood to each other. In Anderson's staging, this violence is made material as the men rip bits of fabric from the beautiful green dress worn by Lines, who plays Peace (the wonderful costumes are designed by Barbara Claydon). It's an understandably unsettling moment for Lines and all of the other women on stage, and the edge it left me on helped redeem some of the lighter and more twee elements of the first act.

P

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Oh What a Beautiful Morning! at The Russian Hall

Last night I attended Fight With a Stick's opening of their latest performance, Oh What a Beautiful Morning!, at The Russian Hall. Frankly, I don't know what to make of the experience. Partly that's the point, as in their latest scenographic scrambling of our perceptions director Alexander Lazaridis Ferguson and his team of collaborators--especially video designer Josh Hite--are interested in taking what is in the background (and also off to the side) of the 1955 film version of the classic American musical Oklahoma! and moving it to the foreground. This results in some stunning visual effects, but at a scant 50 minutes the work feels a bit like a strung together series of scene studies rather than a fully realized deconstruction of the sensory and social environments of the film.

Placing the audience on risers that climb up the stage of the Russian Hall, and working with two scrims and a series of moveable walls, the piece begins by reproducing the widescreen opening shot of the film's cornfields. And then leaves us there. As the stuck first bars of the overture repeat on a loop, the video projection appears to start glitching, slowly advancing frame by frame as we plunge deeper and deeper into the thick rows of cornfields, a mash-up of genre tropes that makes one think that the creepy kids from the horror film Children of the Corn might leap out at us at any moment. Instead, we eventually are made to focus on a lone figure off in the distance toiling in the fields (a black sharecropper perhaps?), someone whose invisible labour is what helps to sustain not just farm girl Laurey Williams' romantic aspirations, but the entire state's territorial ones.

While I tend to be cautious about the aims of exposing an iconic work of art to contemporary critical scrutiny, I do want those aims to be clearly identified. Instead, I couldn't quite tell last night if Oh What a Beautiful Morning! was meant to be a study in performative decolonization (we hear stage directions referencing "Indian territory" in voiceover), a critique of capital accumulation (a windstorm blows the contents of Aunt Eller's farmhouse across the screen), or a Hitchcockian take on female hysteria. Here I refer to the fact that the piece's longest--and concluding--scene puts us in the kitchen with Laurey and Aunt Eller, the projected wallpaper on the back scrim seeming to advance on, and eventually absorb, them, as performers Hayley Gawthrop and Hin Hilary Leung slowly melt into the adjacent side walls. It was captivating to watch; I just don't know what purpose it served.

There are lots of similarly fascinating moments in Oh What, most of them abetted by Hite's uncanny video compositions: Shirley Jones dancing with herself courtesy of front and rear projections; the mirroring of live and recorded hand movements; and Gawthrop and Leung interacting with different screen avatars from the film like cutout figures from a carnival. Again, I found it difficult to figure out the connection between these moments and when the end credits and exit music from the film appeared I think everyone in the audience was a bit surprised. Oh, I guess that's it, was my response as the performers (which also include Logan Hallwas and Jessica Wilke) came out to take a bow. I'm still guessing.

P

Sunday, July 15, 2018

DOTE 2018: Edge Seven at The Firehall + Transverse Orientation at 395 Alexander Street

The 30th anniversary edition of the Dancing on the Edge Festival concluded last night with a 9 pm replaying of the Edge Seven program, a suitable study in contrasts featuring two distinctive approaches to movement and sound.

My colleague Rob Kitsos, together with collaborators Yves Candau and Martin Gotfrit, lead things off with their Real-Time Composition Study. Based on their shared interest in improvisation, the performers compose our perceptual environment in the moment, moving their bodies and sound through the space in response to each other, and to shifting geometric patterns of light that play across an upstage screen. While lighting designer Kyla Gardiner is in the booth overseeing all of this, much of the manipulation of light also happens from the stage, with Rob repositioning and partially shuttering and unshuttering a series of small LED spots in order to frame different areas of bodily focus. The result produces some uncanny trompe l'oeil effects, in which the shadows cast by the performers merge in such a way as to make one doubt whose limb is whose. Likewise, sound is often made to travel through space in a what initially appears to be an "unsourced" or acousmatic way, with Martin--and sometimes Rob--starting to play an instrument offstage that one thinks one can identify, only to emerge with something percussive or stringed or wind-based that totally upends such expectations.

The second piece on the program was Pathways, by Vision Impure's Noam Gagnon. Reworking a series of past solos into a large ensemble creation that Noam has set on eight young dancers whose ranks collectively represent some of the best talent to emerge from Vancouver's three main pre-professional dance programs (at Arts Umbrella, Modus Operandi, and SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts), the piece is performed to a pounding industrial score by Guillaume Cache. Clad all in black, and wearing matching knee-pads, the dancers hover outside the taped-off square of the main stage space, eyeing each other up and down like they are gladiators--or professional wrestlers. And, sure enough, once Eowynn Enquist (who has certainly been busy this festival) takes a running start and throws herself diagonally across the square, sliding to a stop on the other side, we are off on a non-stop contest of pure physicality. This is classic Gagnon choreography from his Holy Body Tattoo days: extreme, high energy, and punishingly visceral. We register the speed and impact of every body roll, the repeated jolts of limbs being thrown over and over again into the air (that five of the six women have long loose tresses that Noam shakingly exploits gives everything that much more of a rock and roll feel). The relentless kinetic and aural assault on our senses is almost overwhelming, but at a certain moment Noam shifts registers, with the dancers who seemed previously to be in competition, or just trying to run away from each other, now seeking each other out in a series of duets whose vocabulary of bodily climbing suggests that in this world even intimacy and tenderness can only be expressed in a similarly intense way.

Following some mixing with friends and artists in the community at DOTE's closing party, Richard and I (and several others circulating throughout the Firehall lobby and on its patio) headed north a few blocks to a warehouse space in Railtown owned by designer Omer Arbel to take in a midnight showing of Transverse Orientation, a new work of dance by Rachel Meyer. This is the second work of original choreography from the former Ballet BC dancer, who has only recently come back from maternity leave, looking impossibly lithe and limber. Based on the flight patterns of moths, and in particular how those patterns are oriented by and towards different natural and artificial sources of light, Transverse Orientation features: fellow Ballet BC alum Christoph von Riedemann as a lone moth-man figure, whose slow, calendrically-marked progress down a vertical runway frames the beginning and end of the piece (we move from watching his initial improvisations in a pre-show anteroom to the main playing space, from which we can track his progress towards us through a canny use of lighting and mirrors); Stéphanie Cyr, Ria Girard and Maya Tenzer as a trio of moths whose various bodily metamorphoses--from bumpy, fluttery proximity to grander, more swooping arcs of circular movement--are tracked through accompanying costume changes; and Meyer herself as a kind of queen moth figure (if I'm not mixing my insect metaphors), whose oversight of the proceedings progresses, transversally one might say, from semi-removed metteur-en-scène to fully engaged primum mobile, around which the others now must move--including violinist Janna Sailor, whose live playing is a key ingredient of the piece, and also eventually von Riedemann, who joins Meyers for a concluding duet that read a little too obviously as a mating dance.

For a self-produced show, Transverse Orientation has certainly spared no expense (including on its programs). Rigging up the lighting (by James Proudfoot) and configuring the set design (by Meyer herself) requires ample resources, and the apple budget alone must have been significant. As per the dramaturgical function of those apples, Meyer certainly has some sharp choreographic instincts. Fragments of the piece are individually compelling, particularly when Meyer is working with smaller, almost micro-movements: I'm thinking especially of von Riedemann's opening gestural sequence, and also Meyer's own fluttering responses to Sailor's improvised plucking and bowing--the way she can pulse a single shoulder blade, or infinitesimally shift the position of a bone in her foot is kind of amazing. That said, the fragments don't add up to a coherent whole and in seeking to interpret different aspects of moths' behaviours (why, for example, in their nocturnal attraction to artificial light, they frequently end up bumping against transparent surfaces, leaving a trail of dust from their wings), the movement comes across as mostly mimetic. I think the piece as it stands is also too long. But just as I always looked forward to what Meyer could do as a singularly virtuosic dancer on the Queen E stage, so do I anticipate great things from her in her new career as a choreographer.

P

Saturday, July 14, 2018

DOTE 2018: Volcano at The Firehall

In the spring of 2010 an Icelandic volcano with an intimidatingly Norse-sounding name, Eyjafjallajökull, erupted, spewing ash and billowing smoke all over Europe. The resulting flight cancellations and delays constituted the largest disruption of air travel since World War II. This is the background to Liz Kinoshita's Volcano, a 2014 work of dance-theatre conceived and directed by the Canadian-born and Belgian-based choreographer that is receiving its Canadian premiere at this year's Dancing on the Edge Festival.

Created and performed by Kinoshita and fellow dancers Salka Ardal Rosengren, Justin F. Kennedy, and Clinton Stringer, the piece is structured as an intricate investigation into the vocal and movement-based rhythms shared by popular musical and dance idioms from the middle of the twentieth century, in particular bebop and tap. As with Mascall Dance's OW (also playing this year's DOTE, and which I blogged about here), Kinoshita and her fellow performers have had to learn two fully integrated scores, cycling through a songbook's worth of co-composed a cappella numbers (a print copy of which is available upon exiting the theatre) alongside fifty minutes worth of almost non-stop soft shoe syncopation. The voices of all four performers are extraordinary, pitch-perfect and harmonically rich, handling changes in tempo and the complex asymmetrical phrasings that blend in and out of different melodies with as much virtuosity as they move through their different unison and non-unison tap routines. It all starts with a bit of freestyle scatting to a classic horizontal shuffle-toe-bang formation. Thereafter the songs self-reflexively address the mechanisms of performance itself, from pre-show routines to the pressures of time to the machinery of touring, including negotiating the security line at the airport: in a number called "Wall" that fittingly unfolds against the Firehall's exposed backstage, and which sees the dancers take turns passing each other over its surface via a series of proffered limbs on which to climb or lean against for support. This section of the piece culminates in an ode to the audience that sees the four performers wading into our ranks, each seeking out a different spectator to serenade (I was one of the lucky chosen ones).

The beginning of the second half of the piece is signalled by the one song that addresses Eyjafjallajökull by name; it starts with a haunting atonal sounding of the volcano's multiple syllables before melding into an elegant four-part harmony. This then leads into an extended floor sequence, in which the dancers' silent and slowed down diagonal dragging of their tired bodies, heavy limb over heavy limb, across the stage serves as a seductive visual and kinetic contrast to the faster tempo of the rest of the work--and to the accelerated pace of daily living more generally. "I am being propelled" is the refrain we hear most often throughout Volcano--and it comes back especially here in a solo number sung by Ardal Rosengren. But what might it mean to "suspend momentum," even just for a minute?

Answering this question, Kinoshita uses the occasion of a volcano's "untimely" eruption to create a smart and rhythmically embracing work of art that shows us all that can and does happen when time is out of our control.

P

Friday, July 13, 2018

42nd Street at Theatre Under the Stars

After skipping last year, Richard and I returned to Malkin Bowl last night for our annual pilgrimage to Theatre Under the Stars. The production we were seeing was the classic Depression-set toe-tapper 42nd Street, one of Richard's all-time favourites. Despite the era in which it is set, 42nd Street was only first produced on Broadway in 1980, directed by the legendary Gower Champion, who dropped dead on opening night; and in terms of current trends on the Great White Way, it is interesting to note that 42nd Street is both a jukebox musical and an adaptation of a movie. That would, of course, be the famous 1933 film directed by Lloyd Bacon (based on the novel by Bradford Ropes), and with its eye-popping choreography for the camera by Busby Berkley. Those routines are hard to reproduce on stage, but nevertheless one of the signature pleasures of watching this musical remains its mostly all-tap dancing, and in this TUTS production veteran choreographer Shelley Stewart Hunt finds a number of innovative ways to showcase the hoofing chops of director Robert McQueen's very talented cast.

The musical's star-is-born plot concerns would-be chorine Peggy Sawyer (Paige Fraser), who after initially missing her audition finds herself cast at the last minute in director Julian Marsh's (Andrew Cownden) latest blockbuster entertainment, Pretty Lady. The work is meant to be a vehicle for the aging star, Dorothy Brock (a very fine Janet Gigliotti), whose mobster boyfriend is bankrolling the production, but who is also seeing Pat Denning (Matthias Falvai) on the side. When Dorothy injures herself in an out-of-town tryout, she blames Peggy. Marsh immediately fires her and announces that the production will close and that audience members will have the cost of their tickets (a whopping $4.40) refunded, a nice meta-theatrical moment that brings us to intermission. In the second act, Peggy's fellow chorus girls (all splendid, especially Jolene Bernadino as the polkadot-wearing Annie) hatch a plan to avoid unemployment and the bread lines, scheming with the show's junior tenor lead, Billy Lawlor (the velvety-voiced Blake Sartin) to get Peggy rehired as the show's replacement lead. Peggy has only 36 hours to learn all of Dorothy's songs, dialogue, and dances, with Marsh reminding her at every turn that the fate of the show, 100 jobs, and a one-hundred thousand dollar investment are resting on her tiny shoulders.

Of course, she triumphs and the climactic title number is, in McQueen's and his designers' hands, a rousing spectacle of eye-popping colour (the costumes are by Christina Sinosich) and razzmatazz movement. Interestingly, the lyrics of "42nd Street," the song, are all about the mixing of different classes and social demographics ("where the underworld can meet the elite") and in a little bit of subtle stage business off to the side, McQueen makes it clear that Marsh still depends on mob money to make the confection-within-a-confection that we are watching fly. And while Marsh is a mostly benign and soft-hearted impresario who just wants to make the best musical he can, it is interesting to consider his bullying of Peggy in light of our present #MeToo era. No matter their singing and dancing talents, the chorus girls in Pretty Lady fundamentally owe their jobs to their abilities to match that description, and whether or not they are able to eat very much depends on the whims of men like Marsh and Dorothy's mobster boyfriend. Which is why the scene that is most affecting for me in the show is the one in which Dorothy, hobbling but now happily married to Pat, confers with Peggy in her dressing room just before the curtain of Pretty Lady is set to rise. Here we get not the usual Hollywood scene of bitter female rivalry, but rather a tenderly shared duet ("About a Quarter to Nine") between two assured professionals.

As always, the TUTS orchestra was in excellent form, with the hard-working music director and conductor Christopher King here doing double duty as the on-stage pianist Oscar. And while I missed hearing the musical's usual penultimate number, "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" (despite it being listed in the program), the production--and the splendid open-air summer evening--more than lived up to my expectations.

P


Thursday, July 12, 2018

I Miss Doing Nothing at Left of Main

Hard to believe, but plastic orchid factory turns ten this year. Rather than marking this milestone with a bold, forward-looking new production, or throwing a celebratory party, pof principals James Gnam and Natalie LeFebvre Gnam are using the occasion of their company's anniversary to intervene in what theorist Elizabeth Freeman has called "chrononormativity": the yoking of time and bodies to a neoliberal emphasis on productivity through work schedules, appointment calendars, deadlines, even show opening and closing dates.

In I Miss Doing Nothing, James and Natalie, together with collaborators Nancy Tam, James Proudfoot, and Vanessa Goodman, attempt to interrupt the serial- and output-oriented logic of time and labouring bodies in two ways. First, rather than using their rehearsal and development process to make a "new" work, they have chosen to play with the kinetic repertoires that continue to linger within their bodies, re-calling over the course of this piece bits of choreography from past works, and seeing how this movement in, through, and across time can create different kinds of affective rhythms and flows. Watching James and Natalie feel their way into how something felt, the slow and often surprising real-time discovery of where an arm was positioned, or in what direction one is meant to be facing, imbues time with a layered, ludic quality, in which the past and present can be made to touch. As with the reverberating echoes and feedback loops of Nancy's live mixing of sounds--a combination of field recordings, rearrangements of old pof music scores, and miked noises from outside the Left of Main studio--such uncanny perceptual relays are also available to the spectator, as an energetic bounce up and down by James or a bit of subtle finger work by Natalie will trigger flashes of memory for those audience members familiar with the company's repertoire.

And it is in their invitation to audience members to self-curate how they wish to be with them in this space experiencing this work that James and Natalie and company have made their second intervention against the organizational march of time-as-usual, not least in terms of how dance and performance works are often shoehorned into hour-long presentation slots. As with Digital Folk, there is no obvious beginning or end to I Miss Doing Nothing. Subtitling the piece "a lived retrospective installation for experiencing time differently," the work unfolds durationally over a three-hour period. Upon entering Left of Main, the first thing one is invited to do is pause: sitting down on the steps up to the studio and affixing a pair of headphones to listen as Natalie gives instruction in what it might mean to open up an interval--even a small one--in the routine pace of our daily lives. Thereafter, and with a lazy mid-afternoon spritzer mixed by David McIntosh in hand, we are free to watch and linger with James and Natalie in the studio for as long as we like, lounging in various states of languorous repose against a chosen bit of wall (as I and most other attendees yesterday opted to do), or moving freely about the space, or coming and going as we see fit. In this respect, it is not as if time stops completely. Whether or not we choose to look at our watches, we are made aware of time's passing via the movement of sunlight and shadows in the space, a choreographing of natural illumination that is slowly revealed via James P and Vanessa's expert manipulation of a set of louvered vertical blinds on the west-facing windows, and the successive removal of the shimmery panels and wooden frames initially covering up the south-facing windows. These panels and frames, together with additional rolling screens, are moved about the room and configured into various architectural formations by Vanessa and James P, whose purposeful--and purposefully timed--activity contrasts with the seemingly more unplanned and aimless progress of Natalie and James G.

And yet it is precisely in the different kinds of attention solicited by these parallel movement scores that we discover that being "in time" together does not have to be reduced, if you'll forgive the boy band metaphor, to being "in sync": with each other, or with the prescribed rhythms of daily life. At different moments yesterday I was alert, sleepy, bored, stimulated, contemplative, anxious, worried, bewildered, absorbed, distracted, and transported. At no moment, however, did I think there was anywhere else I would rather be. Watching Natalie move in and with the last slat of light from the middle of the west-facing windows as its slow disappearance marked the approach of six o'clock (yes, I stayed for the whole three hours), I thought of how productively this time doing nothing had been spent.

In arguing for a more longitudinal approach to time, especially as it relates to the historical survival of different collectivities, Freeman invokes the term belonging to refer not just to identification with a group, but to denote a way of "being long," of a group persisting over time. Artistically and affectively, pof and its extended family of collaborators are definitely peeps I want to grow old with.

P