The Performance Club


This article was written on 30 Jan 2012, and is filed under Guest Writers.

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Barbara Kruger, “Your body is a battleground” (1989)

Before there was Performance Club, there was Counter Critic, Ryan Tracy’s genre-bending blog. It’s inactive these days, but hope springs eternal that, like the Sleeping Beauty who rests on its front page, CC will one day rise from her bed.

Ryan, of course, is wide awake, making all sorts of marvelous mischief—including this piece, which he whipped up after our latest outing. It’s a thrill to be able to publish it here. –clr


  1. (Almost) A Fly on the Wall
    January 30, 2012

    During the early development of YJL’s UFS, the Q&A’s were often the most interesting part of the showings, and as the show progressively became…silent…I found myself longing for the return of the Q&A’s as the “2nd Act” of the show. I thought, how amazing would it be if YJL had a conversation with the audience about feminism every night…? Everyone had an opinion, and everyone was absolutely right, it seemed. In the very early version of the show at the New Museum, there was an exquisite moment towards the end of the performance where the performers, still naked, began asking the audience questions like “What is feminism? What does it mean to you?” and actually engaged the audience in an active and casual conversation…still totally nude…but totally in their own bodies and in their own voices…with their own perspectives, experiences, and ideas about what feminism meant to them…unscripted. The conversations sometimes turned into debates, with the audience becoming a little bit aggressive and the performers struggling to defend their points of view, and there was one night in particular that this section dragged out to the point that the performers became uncomfortable on stage (in truth, it last longer the the rest of the show put together). But the performers couldn’t (or wouldn’t) leave until the conversation was over (at least that was the stage direction). I thought it was mesmerizing, powerful, and triumphant. I mean, they could have left. But they didn’t. They stayed and conversed. The power dynamics in the room became uncomfortably and electrically charged. And many ideas were discussed and chewed on. It could have gone on for hours until everyone exhausted themselves… Or until everyone walked out… Or until everyone took off their clothes and joined the performers on stage… I missed that kind of dialogue in the show in later workshops. That is a living conversation. That is not didactic. It is, however, political and brave beyond all reasonable expectations. The audience is real. The people on stage are real. Everyone has a voice. And everyone, in the end, is stripped naked. It was beautiful. I will never forget those conversations and the many conflicting opinions expressed… I was in awe and humbled by everyone who participated in those conversations… I am sad this part of the show no longer exists, but look forward to seeing the finished work regardless.

  2. Counter Critic
    January 31, 2012

    Thanks for the insight, (Almost) a Fly On The Wall. I/I’m sad I/I missed the early showings of the piece. I/I hope words are added back into future incarnations. I/I remember really loving YJL’s dialogue in “Lear.” Maybe if the direct quotations or didactic arguments really weren’t working for h/er in UFS, s/he can find a path to writing language/dialogue that does work in the context of this piece.

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