The Dislocation Express, V-Blog #11: David Ryther and Mantra Plonsey

After the performance of The Dislocation Express on Wednesday night, David Ryther and I were in front of the Ed Roberts Campus, waiting to go inside and pack up. We were standing where the whole performance journey starts, and now there was no sign we had ever been there at all.

I shared with him that this project feels especially poignant in terms of its impermanence. It takes a huge effort to get going each night, with a complex web of time syncs for when each aspect of the journey has to be set up, performed with, and then cleaned up. And after we’ve come from wherever our lives had led us earlier that day, to the Ed Roberts Campus to start the performance, then to the BART platform, onto a BART train, transferring at MacArthur station and onto another train, and then another BART station for another set up, performance and clean-up, then back to the station, onto a train, transferring to another train, back to Ashby station and back up to the Ed Roberts Campus–after all that there’s a potent sense of the fleeting nature of what we do.

Where does all that energy, expression, connection, passion, effort go? What do we have to show for it? Years of planning, 150 hours of rehearsal, endless dialogues about how to best chip away at the unnecessary aspects of the piece, meetings, multiple publicity campaigns, photo shoots, break-downs, headaches, countless hours in the car hauling props and costumes, and the facing of all sorts of fears and inner demons that stand in the way of sharing our vulnerable truths, all lead to the end of the performances, when hardly any remnants are left, and we all go back to our ordinary lives. It leaves me feeling quite existential and empty.

And when I shared this David said, “Well that’s basically what all of life is…so why not spend it doing this thing that we love?”

Yes!

It’s a great feeling to be able to say “Yes!” to this whole process. To plunge into a completely ephemeral project, commit to it completely, and watch it washed away as soon as it manifests.

The Buddhist Diamond Sutra has a line I love: “Like a flash of lightning in the dark of night.”

To me this describes both the impermanence of every single phenomena (including enlightenment,) and the raw power of moments of insight. And it is a great metaphor for performance. Together, with all the combined energy of everyone that has touched any performance project, including the audiences, we bring this flash of lightning into the night sky and witness it together for that brief moment. Both the lightning and the darkness are important. They define each other, lead to each other, make room for each other to exist.

It’s a strange path that we artists are on, but a beautiful one, and I’m so fortunate to travel it with such “mensches.”

Here’s the last of our introductory v-blogs for The Dislocation Express. During the flurry of activity in our last few rehearsals we didn’t have time to interview David or Mantra, so this is a look at the two of these firestorms in action. I continue to learn so much from both David and Mantra. They commit to everything they do completely, and while they are both virtuosos, they maintain this sense of newness in performance–always hungry for learning and growth and always seeking higher and deeper levels of mystery.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhK4PAolbxY

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