Answers for the Patient Anonymous ~ 168

Ms. Wright,
Just a repost question from November 29th. If you don’t want to respond, it’s ok, but I thought since you were working on a new post about the Tableau Vivant you may want to combine the issues. I am sorry to hear about your feelings, though I think getting out of the house, showering and doing something (anything, reallly) is quite helpful. Kudos to you for doing so, for blogging about it and for holding yourself responsible to keep up your promise to yourself. It ain’t easy but you only get one life and you, for better or worse, get to run a business around your life. Being a solo practitioner is a hard and stressful task and you should give yourself credit for doing it.

And kudos to you for owning the Tableau Vivant and being so open about it. I suspect that one reason you get so many hits on this issue is that only your blog (apart from Ms. Smalls blog) comes up in Google if you search for it. You are the only artist to publicly identify yourself as one of the artists in the performance (at least by Google search standards). Not fully understanding the purpose or intent of the Tableau Vivant performance, I’m not sure why this is, or what it means or says, but others have apparently not embraced their performance in the same way that you have. As a result, you get the Google hits for having so publicly embraced your performance.

I read your blog a while back after the Dumbo Arts Festival and commented on your being a part of the Tableau Vivant show. You were kind enough to respond in the comments. For background, we stumbled on the performance when we went to the bookstore and was told a performance was about to start, so we stayed.

First, more power to you for posting the video where all your friends could see you. It is one thing to perform naked in public and have it disappear, or to have it appear generally on the Internet, but another to directly link it to yourself for the world (and your friends, family and future significant others) to find and see it. Perhaps this is part of your liberation and “skydiving” experience.

Second, and more importantly, can you please explain what the performance meant? we watched the original performance, and the video, and remain confused. I’ve also read Ms. Small’s site, but I still don’t get it. Since it was apparently such a significant experience for you, I’m also curious what you got out of it (beyond the freeing experience of being naked on a stage).

By that I mean I don’t understand the message or meaning other than the nudity and singing (beautiful by the way). Perhaps I’m not that understanding of modern art or concept pieces (I once saw a “play” in the East Village, I think by Mac Wellman, and had similar difficulty). Yes, it is rather interesting to see naked people, and the different bodies, sizes and types, and to watch them sort of interact or move about, and to have it done to music, but to what effect? How was the performance described to you when you auditioned and during rehearsals? What was Ms. Small telling or describing when she wanted the actors/actresses to move? Were the movements choreographed in a particular way for a particular reason? This was why I had googled Tableau Vivant after the show and found your blog.

Thanks for listening and I look forward to your response (but rest and have fun–no need for an immediate response, or any if you prefer). ~Anonymous


Original Photo by Andy Stromberg

This past week, I have once more had the honor of participating in Sarah Small’s Tableau Vivant, singing in my church choir, rehearsing for an upcoming Valentine’s Day concert at the Cornelia Street Café, and recording Lorca-inspired music for the talented composer Rima Fand, among other fantastic activities. I’ve worked with incredible friends, colleagues, musicians, actors, videographers, makeup artists, models, directors, composers, and seemingly average folks living quite extraordinary lives. For those who believe that the artistic community gives or collaborates too little or has reached a point of stagnation, even in the winter, my little life in New York and I beg to differ.

While speaking on the phone with Sarah Small tonight for more than an hour after my recording session with Rima, I felt overcome by gratefulness for the small role I have to play in her world and art. In a brief moment, I understood how her work exists as a microcosm for life itself, in all of the common but sometimes unexpected pieces of ourselves and our relationships with one another that we so often hide from the public world. In the next few days and posts here on Skydiving for Pearls, I hope to take you on a journey inside my understanding of one woman’s Tableau Vivant.

For my patient anonymous reader, thank you for your persistence in questioning our motives and inspirations. You’ve truly helped me to “flesh out” the meaning in a piece that has instinctively meant so much to me and opened up my heart to a new confidence and vulnerability. I hope these next few days will shed some light for you on a performance that has illumined my life in so many ways.

3 thoughts on “Answers for the Patient Anonymous ~ 168

  1. Abigail,

    Events of this past weekend had me talking with my daughter about marriage equality, which reminded me of her prior questions and of my talking with you about Tableau Vivant. It also reminded me that I had meant to send you a thank you note, which I had frequently composed in my mind but not actually written down. My apologies for the delay.

    Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me at the Tableau Vivant. I very much appreciated the chance to speak with you, for explaining the process and answering my questions, and for taking me around the lower art area. It was very kind of you, especially given the busy demands of that evening.

    I also wanted to thank you for answering my question about what the piece meant to you as an artist, both orally and in writing. I enjoyed both Tableau performances, but the May version more so mainly because I was better prepared for it and was able to enjoy it as art for art’s sake, rather than trying to think about it as art, or explain it to a 4 year old. Sometimes things just need to be enjoyed and not analyzed. I most enjoyed the music, which was very well done, and the fluidity of the people as they all moved in unison.

    As for the September performance, you should know that she still remembers the performance and talks about with her sister. She and her twin sister both look forward to the Dumbo Arts Festival in September.

    On the other issue, which is what I thought of this past weekend as the couples were married, I also wanted to again express my admiration for your personal honesty and determination to help others. For even thinking about it, your courage and selflessness is to be applauded. Such an act is beyond gracious for the joy you have thought to give to others. I hope it worked out for you.

    It was a pleasure to have met you and I wish you all the best. Enjoy and embrace your renewed peace about life.

    P.S. Since you moderate your comments, there is no need to post this, or feel free to edit it to remove the personal, which I tried to keep opaque but still be understandable to you.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful note! Apologies for my delay as well in replying! I’ll be posting soon about the issue you mention soon – I start the process tonight and can’t wait to have an opportunity to contribute to the universe in this way. Lots of interesting developments Tableau-wise. Of course, no official news yet, but it’s fairly likely our May performance will lead to some wonderful new adventures in art. As always, it’s a pleasure to hear from you, and I have to admit that I still have not managed to think of a way to describe Sarah Small’s art form (which does go quite far beyond standard tableau vivant) to adults, no less five-year-olds. She is a brilliant and imaginative woman indeed!

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