An excerpt from my thesis writing, The Human Reliquary: Origin, Continuity, & Lateness.
Within the Moe theater on February 18, 2017, The Human Reliquary was performed. The Moe theater is a black box theater, which is a space historically known for experimental theater practice. The original intention was to fully explore the space of the black box by hosting the audience seating in the center of the space. We instead, due to circumstance, utilized a three sided seating known as a thrust configuration. This gave a difference sense of space for the audience, which was frustrating, though it allowed ourselves as performers move more freely in this still intimate space. It was an amazing experience to learn to not only move with sound in this respect, but also to react to the other performers, sonically and physically. The three of us in character connected, disconnected and reconnected in a contradictory flow of gentle and aggressive motions.
The three masks are interconnected through the linear narrative of transformation and interpretation of Said’s episodes. And their bodies are really designed as extensions of the masks. Where the first two both are skinned in silicone and coated in paints that flake away from the silicone as the body moves. This is the beginning of the “dissolving self” that I became interested in. Where the other bodies are coated in flesh and covered entirely, Remnant’s body is as torn and dissolved as the mask itself. I began the performance already exhausted and late. Broken and embodying the mortality that Remnant would bring to the other characters. “The last great problematic, the last or late period of life, the decay of the body, the onset of ill health or other factors that even in a younger person bring on the possibility of an untimely end” (Said, 2006). Remnant initiated the performance with a guttural inhale that morphed and blended into its own feedback loop that died away, giving breath to Recovery. In that moment, the portion of the mask covering the eyes and forehead is dropped, removing the last connection to continuity and center while retaining that connection to a beginning; the broken tube. Within removal there is connection, however. Remnant’s mask is connected to beginning and continuity through the removal and destruction of its parts. To have a negative space where the parabolic dishes once were is to be both with and without them. “Lateness for Said is ‘a form of exile,’ but even exile exists somewhere, and ‘late style is in, but oddly apart from, the present” (Said, 2006). My lateness is often a moment present in action but lost in beginning and future. This mask that I wore was to be that painful moment interacting with the symbols of beginning. We were visually tethered together through costume, instrument and movement.
Said, E. W. (2006). On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
released February 18, 2017
Recovery Mask - Christian Boswell
Reflection Mask - Elisabeth Dennis
Remnant Mask - Michael G. Maxwell
Stage Manager - Bobbi Masters
Lighting & Technical - Andrew Beyke
Performed on February 18th, 2017 in the Southern Illinois University Moe Theater. Instruments and costuming developed in collaboration with Elisabeth Dennis, Niresse Cosplay.
Master of Fine Arts Thesis Committee
Chair - Jay Needham, MFA
Member - Wago Kreider, MFA
Member - Jennida Chase, MFA
Honorary - Dr. Phylis Johnson, PHD
Felnyrii is Michael G. Maxwell
Produced by Michael G. Maxwell
Cover art original image taken by JP Rhea
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