Adam Paolozza on the effect of oppression on our bodies and our art

 Who better to talk to about bodies and art than theatre creator, [color]Adam Paolozza[/color]?  We asked him about the effect of oppression on our bodies and our art and he responded with words and music.  Adam is director, choreographer and co-writer of [color]Shostakovich, or Three Days in Red[/color].
Press <PLAY> to hear Shostakovich’s 8th String Quartet performed by the Borodin String Quartet

No one will deny that we live in an anxious society.  We’re a culture of stress.  We’re forever guilty before the big other.  And the world is going to end soon, be it environmental disaster or social-economic collapse.  And it’s our fault.

Obviously that’s an exaggeration but I think like that a lot.  And those thoughts affect my body in ways I don’t always clock.

Shostakovich also lived in constant anxiety, never sure whether he or his loved ones might one day be whisked away, arrested and sent to the gulag.  He lived through the great terror that was Stalinism.  He too felt anxious, guilty and stressed.  His body developed many twitches, ticks and jerky mannerisms.  So did his music.

In our piece the body is the locus of political oppression.  This is bio-politics in the sense that the body is no more a sovereign domain.  It is no longer private subject but a public object, the very site where the oppressive forces are expressed.  It is the invasion of the private by the public, by the state, before whose paternal eye we are all already guilty.  This is the body always watched, always watching, looking for signs, waiting, tense.

This piece is about three days in the life of Shostakovich.  But this isn’t pure biography or mere historical re-creation.  It’s a corporeal metaphor, it’s an image of a life rife with tension.  It’s set in an imaginary past, in an intensely oppressed culture, complete with the perfect fairy tale villain (Stalin himself) but are things so different?  What forces are exerting pressure on us now?  Are we not still, as a culture, perennially anxious?  The agent of oppression changes but the effect on the body remains.  And the body doesn’t lie.


Shostakovich or Three Days in Red is on stage February 27-March 3.  Click here for more information.
And for more on Adam’s theatre company, visit their website here.
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