Theatrical Redemption Courtesy of Ralph Lemon Nov 19, 2010
How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?
Yesterday was one of those days for me. We used to call them “bad days” but now we call them “days filled with learning opportunities.” Blech. For the final act of the day, I was on my way to see a performance by a world-renowned artist who was doing a show about grief, redemption and the death of his muse/partner. “Oh boy,” I thought. Buckle up. It ends up that How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? ended up being not only the best part of the day but also ended up redeeming the day as a whole.
Ralph Lemon is known for subverting typical dance structure and this performance represented that. Without succumbing to spoilers, I think it is safe to say that the first third has him narrating the best piece of dance film I have seen. The second is a unique dance movement that he explains during the previous dance film. The last third is a kind of catharsis based on the prior two.
Indeed, friends and reviewers warned me that this is a “difficult” and “challenging” work. I very much disagree. While this certainly isn’t Marie Chouinard or Zoe/Juniper where the whole performance is breathtaking and easily digestible eye candy, it isn’t gut wrenching like the puppets of Jerk either. What Ralph Lemon offers us is a balanced, contemplative and certainly theatrical approach to considering love, devotion, loss and just how much that really hurts inside and brings us to tears.
I really encourage you to not dismiss this performance as depressing because it most certainly was not for me. Ralph Lemon does what I have not seen done before. He approaches the subject matter with enough emotional distance and with enough theatrical talent that it isn’t like getting hit by a truck. It is more like high school biology dissection where you know this is pushing emotional buttons but the inside of the animal is pretty darn cool when you actually take a moment to look. I was totally engaged, sitting on the edge of my seat for most of it and deeply enjoyed it.
Many years ago Lemon disbanded his dance company so that he could open up the kind of performance artists he worked with. He also threw himself into the research side of producing work. He really threw himself into the research side. That can be felt through the allusions to great writers, films, philosophers and in the way he approaches the topic in a nearly academic way. Now, that is only how he approaches it. By the midway point, it is all visceral movement. It is invaluable though that he sets the stage with an emotionally balanced explanation of his motivation behind the following movement work. It worked. It worked like a masterpiece works.
I went to this performance at the end of a long and difficult day. Ralph Lemon took me on a gentle emotional trip that ended up exorcising the demons that were troubling me. That is definitely a sign of mastery and it is also much cheaper than therapy. Enjoy, really.