DAD ART PERFORMANCE/HEALING COLLAGE
DAD ART PERFORMANCE/HEALING COLLAGE is an opportunity for a willing community to see, learn about, interact with and experience aesthetically/performatively the old age, sickness and death of my father Henry Joseph Montano as life/art. In coming into contact with another person’s life story and their eventual death, we will see, be reminded of and participate in the feelings associated with our own deaths. That is important work.
The video is a document of the time I took care of my father from 1998-2005 in Saugerties NY, after I left UT Austin.
Death, a tabooed subject and not always out of the closet of fear and dread, must be aesthetically exposed/experienced as the natural event that it is. Why? To prepare us courageously for our own inevitable deaths and help us all make some alliance and friend with that fact. We all share life and we all will experience the end game. Let us collectively help each other do that.
I have found that by opening doors to the SUBJECT of death, I am asking death for friendship and knowledge and understanding. In doing so,
my personal spiritual journey and curiosity are becoming educated to our natural and shared human situation. A good thing, I think..
CAST OF VOLUNTEERS:
1. One or two MC’s. They will have/use a whistle or a suitable hand held/blown noise device so that they interrupt the “solemnity” of both the images on video and performative actions with a festivity/jesterlyness but dignified sacredness.
2. The secretary who writes down “letters to death” dictated by the audience members who come onstage and visit the secretary at their desk. The secretary can instruct the audience member what to do. The audience member talks, the secretary writes. All letters begin with DEAR DEATH……..
3. The water-giver. One person who offers water to audience members who come to them for healing “water.” It can be a glass of water, a spritz of rose water from a spritz bottle, a bowl of water that the audience member drinks from or puts their finger in to bring to a place on their body that needs healing. The exact way the water person wants to share water is designed by them. The water giver instructs the audience member what to do.
4. Two grief counselors sit in front of empty chairs and when an audience member sits down across from them, they listen to stories of death told by members of the audience visiting them onstage at the death-counselor station. They can say,” Do you want to tell me about death?” Then they just listen. No advice is needed from the counselors.
5. The audience members come to the mic to say the name of the person they are remembering who has died. Or the mic can be passed around in the audience by the MC’s. They are welcome to say the names of people who have died who they want to remember. Or they can say this: IM SORRY…… I FORGIVE YOU AND I FORGIVE MYSELF. Their choice. The MC occasionally helps this to happen. If there is a written program handed out to the audience before the event, this will be written in the program so they can read it.
6. The singer. Montano will sing 7 songs, one every 20 minutes to honor and remember her father’s love of music, his time in his band where he played trumpet. My mother sang in this band as well. The MC calls me to the microphone to sing 7 times at designated and equally spaced times, keeping track of the correct times to invite me to sing.
7. The parade leader will come up at the end of the performance and lead us all outside so we can burn the letters to death in a container. There can be many parade leaders. They also lead us in dancing ADDICTED TO LOVE via a boombox sound system after the burning of the letters. They can make festive parade “flags” or have sticks with yarn on them and other attractive things to bring attention to the parade’s actions. Musical Instruments/singing can be included if they want. The parade person/persons come into the performance space and invite people to follow them via verbal instruction or if the mood needs they can use hand gestures/silence. If the atmosphere calls for it, all can walk out in silence. The parade person/persons need to be sensitive to the mood needed at the time. This instruction/invitation can also be included in the program notes.
All is happening simultaneously. There is no fixed focus. All can be talked over/interrupted. There are no mistakes possible in this experience because it is an event of natural occurrences/intensely seen and felt truths and over-lapping experiences. Collectively we will be supporting each other and learning together a new language.
THE STAGE AND PROPS:
FRONT STAGE/MID STAGE: The MC’s will stand and move around and interact with the audience. They will either share a mic or there will be two mics for the MC’s. The second or third mic will be set for reverb/digital delay for Linda when she sings and also for audience when they come up to say the names of their deceased friends.
TO THE RIGHT OF THE MC’S FACING THE AUDIENCE: There will be four chairs next to each other. The two grief counselors will sit in two of them, side-ways to audience. Audience members will sit in the empty chairs to talk with the grief counsellors who, by the way, are just listening to stories. They have no need to know how to counsel.
The MC’s will see when there is a need for an audience member to come to a chair or go to the water station or to write a letter. They will keep the flow going but in a very scared and “ritualistic” manner.
BACK STAGE/ RIGHT BACK: There is a table. The letters to death secretary will sit with their back to the audience with a death mask on the back of their head. They face the person sitting in a chair while they write the letters. They need paper and a pen to write with. Table and two chairs.
BACK STAGE/BACK LEFT: The water giver is in back of a table. Standing. On the table are the things they choose to use to offer water to audience members.
LEFT STAGE/ FRONT: Microphone is there for audience members who want to honor their friends with their friend’s name or do the I’m Sorry incantation. But also they can do this when the MC’s pass their mic to the siting audience. I will use this microphone when I come up to sing so the mic has to be calibrated for my need to have reverb or digital delay.
Each station can be lit from above, shining down except for the MC’s and singer . But lighting needs to be sufficiently bright enough so that it is possible for audience members to walk safely onto the stage.
There are 4 layers of sound:
1. Sound from the video.
2. Sound from the MC’s mic on a mic stand.
3. Sound from my mic on a mic stand, adjusted for delay/reverb.
4. Sound for the “music” that I sing. I sing along with either a trumpet or a guitar accompaniment. I will bring a cd of this music. It is to be calibrated so whenever I get up to sing and indicate a signal to begin, the “next” song is played.
5. Sound for ADDICTED TO LOVE outside around the fire which can be a campfire if you wish. This sound can be on a boombox, or anything simple but loud.
As we walk onstage, there will be a you tube of bird sound/images, low volume already playing as people come into the theatre.
Each actor will go to the standing mic center stage and say their name and will simply say what they will be doing.
We go to our stations and perform the actions, not “paying attention” to the video onscreen because you will have seen it before the night of the performance via you tube or vimeo. It is important that everyone pay attention to their action and not to the screen or anyone else’s action. This concentration will help make the energy of the performance more focused.
At the end of the video, after the credits, the parade people will come to gather each of us and we leave via the front door while humming one note. Parade people also gather the audience members and we all go outside, form a circle around the burning container and the secretary puts the letters one by one into the fire. After the LETTERS TO DEATH are burned, we then all dance to ADDICTED TO LOVE. THE END.
Please see Robert Graham’s ADDICTED TO LOVE youtube before the performance. Please wear:
1. BLACK CLOTHES: As nice as possible. Everything black.
2. GREAT SHOES: In keeping with a “funeral home” look. Black. Don’t buy anything but they need to look good/polished.
3. FABULOUS HAIR OR WIG: Very Glamour/Vogue. Cover all tattoos. Somber but Glam look.
4. EXCESSIVE MAKEUP: So it looks glamorous.
5. SUNGLASSES: Can be taken on and off, but walk out with them on/leave with them on. If you need to take them off to make eye contact with an audience member at your station, please feel free to do so. Healing contact is most important.
6. Please bring you costume to the rehearsal. More than one if you have a question.
1. Four chairs for grief counsellors.
2. Table and two chairs for secretary. Paper and pen for letter writing.
3. Table and water props for water giver.
4. Sound makers for MC’s.
5. Festive things for parade leaders.
2. CD of trumpet/ guitar.
3. Costume and wig, sunglasses and make up.
LINDA MARY MONTANO : LINDAMONTANO@HOTMAIL.COM, 845 399 2502