Performance art can happen anywhere, and still be performance art…right? What if it happens in a theatre? We asked [color]Shannon Cochrane[/color], Artistic and Administrative Director of [color]FADO Performance Art Centre[/color], to discuss this very conundrum. FADO has partnered with us this year to bring [color]Step By Step[/color] to the Rhubarb stage.
Theatre = chairs. Performance art = no chairs.
Apparently I said this once, to a theatre-maker (who remembers that I was quoting a different theatre-maker), in an attempt to describe the fundamental difference (as if there was only one) between performance art and theatre. With FADO Performance Art Centre’s co-presentation at Rhubarb looming (Step by Step performed by Andrés Galeano and Ieke Trinks), clearly chairs (or lack of) is not a defining factor. Back to the theatre-maker then, who recently also said that in theatre there are two groups of people: one group who knows what is going to happen, and one group who does not.
Esther Ferrer (legendary performance artist from Spain) says that everything you need to know about performance art you can learn in 3 minutes. She often says this as an introduction to workshop teaching, which I can imagine is both extremely liberating, and completely perplexing to the students. She says, in performance art there is nothing to learn, there are no skills to acquire. There is no theory or methodology to master. In fact there are as many theories as there are artists. You make everything up yourself. You invent it. And then you do it.
Perhaps this is why it is so exciting when performance art enters the theatre. There are still two groups, but there is a good chance that neither one knows exactly what is going to happen. We have an intention or a goal, but only sometimes a plan. We have no script, but we might have a score. We make images as ourselves, not portraits of a character. We use objects and materials, not props. If theatre has history, performance art has lineage. We enter the house of theatre to lean on its magic (the stage, the lights, the chairs!), but we go at it backwards, shun expectation, reject reverence, talk too loudly, pick our noses. We never pretend the audience isn’t there. We are the artist and the art. We present in the same moment we create. We try to dance even though we are not dancers. We do some things just because they don’t fit. We have no answers and we are not trying to reach the end. We are just taking it step by step.
FADO Performance Art Centre has enjoyed a long history of partnership with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre going all the way back to a co-presentation of Annie Sprinkle in the early 90’s; Sian Robinson-Davies at Rhubarb 2012; 2Fik at Rhubarb 2011; and Tall Blond Ladies at Hysteria 2009. This year, FADO is pleased to co-present Andrés Galeano (Spain/Germany) and Ieke Trinks (Netherlands) at Rhubarb 2013.