Chain of Command
performance workshop
Enacted at the 2020 GRACLS Conference “On-Stage, Off-Stage: Body, Archive, and Performance” at the University of Texas at Austin, TX.

Performing the Indexical: Between Language and Movement

This workshop/participatory performance tangles the linguistic and the corporeal, challenging participants to find the words to describe improvised movement in real time. The movement is itself prompted by ideas of the indexical, framing and pointing-to; moving between somatic perception and visual image-making while responding to the site of the performance.

The performance involves a chain of command, with one person improvising, another mimicking that movement, a third describing verbally the actions taken by the improviser in first person, a fourth describing it in second person, a fifth in third person, and others observing. It functions as a workshop in that we will switch between roles, manufacturing different points of view through language, framing the action to create layers of meaning. Before we reach this point however, we will do a series of simple exercises that will prepare us for the task at hand.  

Through this work, we will explore distance and proximity using language and our bodies, both dwelling in each other and imag(in)ing a space of action. The objective of this workshop/performance is to experience the ways in which language positions us in space, within our own bodies, and in relation to each other. Perhaps we might discover feedback at play between speaking and doing, and so create an indeterminate space between description and instruction, mirroring the mechanics of improvisational practice itself in its moving and being-moved-by, thinking and being-thought, saying and being-said.