The Imperfect is Our Paradise is an immersive performance installation that premiered at ODC Theater, San Francisco, September 2014. The piece is structured around relationships. The unanticipated juxtapositions of duets, solos and groups throughout the work establish the underlying questions and energy that infuse our lives with excitement, introspection, courage, sorrow and resolve.
The work began with my interest in the way the trajectory of history shapes people’s lives: how they adapt to, push back against and get pulled into the personal, political and social forces that create their environment. The title—from a line in the Wallace Stevens poem “The Poems of Our Climate”—sums up, to me, the circumstances of our lives. The text is from The Sound and the Fury.
In looking for text to incorporate into the score, I read and re-read William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. It grew more powerful and startling upon each reading. Faulkner constructs sentences that rip open the emotional core--memory intrudes into the narrative unexpectedly, in mid-thought, and time exists on multiple levels simultaneously. There is seldom punctuation to the memories. The sentences and fragments have no real beginnings or endings; I don't always know who is speaking when dialogue is recounted. So I feel exactly like I am in the character's mind, experiencing the rawness, relentlessness of his emotions. That rawness, introspection and fearlessness became the source of the structure and the movement of The Imperfect is Our Paradise.
The installation is a jagged space, with alcoves that allow the audience to move between the dancers and be almost uncomfortably close; or the audience can observe from the seats. Their rhythms—walking, standing, shifting focus—create the final layer of unpredictability.