January 19, 2017

Making Wallflower: Renny O’Shea – Dramaturg

On Saturday Jo said that it’s not about the performers fulfilling the task of remembering every dance, but about the audience making their own remembering narrative. It’s me watching a 12 year old Sonia dancing to Sister Sledge and seeing her 50 year old body in front of me.  It’s something of what Adrian Kear was talking about in Aberystwyth, the double.  But it’s even more than that, more than the double double, (did he say that, or did I just imagine it?) it’s the many many layers of that reality. And seeing too my 10 year old self and my 20 year old self loving dancing to Sister Sledge, a tragic bassline, a constant jerk back to the reality of the impossible knowing my complete inability to dance in any way like that now.  I suppose it’s like watching Simone Biles or David Rudisha, the beauty of their performances – unattainable pop stars doing something we kind of understand a bit, kind of feel it in our body – but know it’s out of our grasp and enjoy it anyway.

I love watching the performers dancing, I love watching people dancing, I stir to the music, I feel the joy.  And simultaneously feel the pain of my clumsy walk, my frozen hips, my smile which is both genuine and a mask for people not to notice me.  I know what kinaesthetic empathy is.  I want to cry.  It’s self-indulgent.  It’s all self indulgent isn’t it?  Then James as Michael Jackson overrides all the layers, simply makes me laugh with him.  And I’m 13 again remembering the self conscious showing off at the school disco (was it in Peg’s on the pier?) and it’s me up there out there loving it, and I want to cry again and so it goes on round and round…

Renny O’Shea is co-artistic director of Quarantine and dramaturg on Wallflower


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