There is nothing living in this room
There is nothing living in this room, only us, resilient furniture. At best, we are the props of your daily routine: practical, and comforting. I recall the first days of your retreat. You were forced inside, alone, looking at infection numbers waltzing and waltzing. As you stared at the intoxicated world outside of your window for hours, and days, and months, the space you called living room turned into a time capsule, weightless.
When it crashed, I was the first victim.
I used to think of myself as an oriental beauty: delicate, mysterious, bewitching. I wore intricate patterns and layers of stories, carefully knitted on my body by old hands, from the strong wool of mountain sheep. Researchers spent liters of ink writing about me, where I am from, who made me. Were they ancient nomad tribes or rich merchants? Which divine spirit speaks through this myriad of esoteric symbols? Your guests were not short in compliments either and I wrapped myself in them like a mystic in a rich stole.
Suddenly, you tore me apart. You took out everything I cherished, leaving only the corners and the fringes. I became a black hole, desperately empty. Now I am a negative answer, a frustrating silence. A rug of void.
All your other furniture underwent the same painful path of forced transmutation. The wardrobe, who cared for your clothes, became a cage. The cabinet who cared for your socks, became a helmet. The chair, who diligently cared for your back every day, became a noisy amputee that you painfully dragged on what remained of me.
I know times were hard for humans out there, but we all tried our best to create a safe place around you, as you obsessively discussed with other performers how to perform now without space and audience. As you lost purpose, you altered ours too.
What are performers without their public? What are carpet fringes without wool inside? What is a chair without its legs?
You extended to us an existential nightmare that only living beings can normally suffer. Us, furniture, are only here to stage you, and reflect who you are to the people you used to invite over.
“Oh thanks for the chair, very comfortable thank you. Nice wardrobe too! Did you get it at the Swedish shop? And this carpet, such a beauty, did you inherit it?”
I miss these conversations, and I know you do too.
Now the living room is upside down and the furniture are the ones being staged. You forced life in our soul-less core through the forceps of a dramaturgy.
But is the living room living now?
I will leave it to your public to decide; they were so glad to see you again, I heard their hands clapping at the end. Now please, give me back the patterns, put the wardrobe up on its feet. I want the life we used to share all together, before the pandemic.
The text was written as part of an international writing workshop entitled Alternative Formats, aimed at developing alternative ways of writing about dance. The workshop was a collaboration between Taneční aktuality and Performing Criticism Globally and took place during Move Fest Ostrava 2021, kindly supported by EEA Grants, and the resulting texts were written in response to productions at this festival. Lorraine Vaney’s text There is nothing living in this room responds to Lukáš Karásek / tYhle’s performance Living Room.
Living room / Obývací pokoj
Autor, performer: Lukáš Karásek
Dramaturgie: Viktor Černický
Scénografie, výroba masek: Lukáš Urbanec
Světelný design: Zuzana Režná
Kostýmy: Hynek Petrželka
Produkce: tYhle, Studio ALTA
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