This show was called L’Effet de Serge. It could have also been called:
The effect of florescent light. The effect of living alone. The effect of art. The effect of music. The effect of quiet. The effect of time. The effect of small things. The effect of people coming into a room together to sit and be silent and watch a thing someone else is doing for them and calling art.
I left the theater feeling sad, sweet, awkward. Like Serge’s friends on stage, who come, sit down, watch a thing he has made, find a comment to fill the silence of that thing being done, and go.
How many times do I go to a performance, file into the theater, watch my friends perform, file out, say something inane, hug them, and leave? What do you say to someone after they have shown you something called ‘art’? Either it is too big to be put into words, or it is too small.
Smallness was important. Much of the charm in this piece came from its simplicity. The illumination of a small act as a piece of art, a small interaction as one of value, a small awkwardness as natural, a small awkwardness as enormous. The smallness of our lives. A series of small art projects made up the piece, but it was bookended by the suggestion of grandness.
The actor who played Serge began by entering (with a great deal of smoke and mystery) in an Astronaut suit, telling us it was from the end of Phillipe Quesne/Vivarium Studio‘s last show. At the end of this show, he left, giving us an image of the beginning of the next show, five invisible rockers jamming out, only their wigs bobbing in more smoke and dramatic lights. All that happened in between, the mundane actions of a lone man in a fluorescent-lit apartment, was framed by the suggestion of louder, livelier more outrageous shows, scenes that suggested the promise of action, narrative and flash. What we might think of as ‘real’ theater.
What were we given instead? A man eating pizza, drinking wine, watching a documentary, a voice-over telling us in the protagonist’s charming French accent, “Time passes, time passes, time passes.” What do we do with the time that passes? The quietness became heavy. The sparks of Serge’s momentary pyrotechnics became comparatively bold. Life becomes art, art becomes awkward. The weight of three minutes. One minute. Waiting for the next small spark. Smallness gains importance in the heaviness of the time all around it.
I wondered, is this my life? Long stretches of waiting for the next tiny excitement? Am I so small? How beautiful each small spark is, and how sad.
(From Theresa of Mad King Thomas)