I will say “so difficult to fall asleep in” And once I say this, you will clap. Even those of you who were a bit bored will clap because it’s a comfortable way to signal an ending. You will clap as though shrugging your shoulders. Those thirty minutes are gone, and now you can move on with the rest of your night. I will close the cover of the ipad that you have watched me scroll through, move the white board back to where it is now, and walk out of that door over there, briefly touching the speakeron my way out. You will notice the space is empty for a split second, and that split second will seem long, and will stand outside of time, when the clock that you hadn’t noticed ticking at first will tick, and the lights will turn on, and you will feel almost embarassed as you turn to each other and smile or make a face like this. In the moment the clock takes to tick, I will be standing outside, readying myself not to care so much. I will be standing outside, and I will realise that when you walk out and see me it will be awkward, as though I was waiting for you, so I will decide to go look for a washroom to change out of this outfit, that you had not realised was a costume. Before I have a chance to do this the door will open, your hushed ambiguous chatter will become notably louder, and I will hide from you in the student kitchen. I will turn the lights off and I will watch each of you file out the door, and among conversations about things totally unrelated to the show, I will hear one of you say “Spooooooky”, and then I will hear a young voice with a South Dublin accent say “Shall we go check if she’s hiding in the kitchen then?” At that moment I will step out of the kitchen, and the voice will belong to a young woman, and the young woman and I will look at each other, and we will both have the look on our face that we may have had if someone had just walked in on us doing something wrong. I will smile and she will smile and I will walk quickly past all of you towards the café. I will pretend I am still looking for the washroom to change, but as I walk I will realise that I left the outfit to change into in the performance space, along with my laptop and ipad. I will realise I am trying to recreate the moment after the first scratch of my first solo show, two years ago, when I was distracted by the nerves of having finished the show by seeing a Dyson Hand dryer for the first time. I will realise that what I am really looking for is a Dyson hand dryer, and that there is no guarantee the venue has one. As I am thinking this, I will go through the doorway to walk up the stairs next to the café, and I will bump into Andy. He will be smiling and immediately say, “So, how did it go? Is it all coming true yet?” I will say yes, it is all coming true. Exactly as I said it would. He will laugh and point out that predicting the first five minutes is the easy part.
Kieron and Veronica’s shows won’t be out yet and so I will be in the particularly strange position of speaking to Andy, whilst being in the café space with exclusively people who just saw the show. We will all be self conscious, and you will be wondering if you are behaving exactly as I’d pictured you would. You will be behaving exactly as I’d pictured you would and I will be distracted by this while speaking to Andy. Andy will not have seen the show, and so he will not realise that he is also behaving exactly as I’d said he would. He will say, “I bet you didn’t predict this” and he will hold up the cup I hadn’t noticed him holding before, and in it there will be a tiny, perfect mouse which will be too peaceful to be frightening. He will say that one of the techs found it sleeping on one of the parcans and thank goodness he found it before they turned the light on. “We’re torn between Fievel and Ratatouille” he will say. I’ll say, definitely Fievel. What are you going to do with him?” He’ll say, I’m just bringing it to one of the people at the Lir and they’ll call the Humane society during Action Hero. At least four of you will be staring at Andy and I as we have this excange, and two of you will come up and peer in the cup and say, “There’s Fievel.” Andy will be confused and you will sound, resigned.
Audience members from Kieron and Veronica’s show will begin to file back into the space, and Andy will say “Excuse me” while he rushes down the hall to have someone else look after the mouse. You will ask a friend which show they watched, and when they say Kieron’s show you will be glad, and begin discussing it. Meanwhile, I will only want to talk about my performance and I will not want to talk about my performance, but Andy will come up behind me and hand me a beer, which I will drink, thinking of the mouse, and the glass of wine will dull this narcicism. I will see Dan Canham and I will come up to him and we will begin chatting, and I will tell him about the mouse. I will not be sure how he feels about it. Suddenly, in a loud voice, someone will announce that Action Hero are performing in the main studio in five minutes. Dan and I will look at each other and we will follow the rest of the crowd into the space. I will see one of your faces and I will remember that none of you have come up to me to say well done or to mention my piece yet. At that moment, the one of you I am looking at, a young man, will say, as we are shuffling in to keep the conversation deliberately short, “I enjoyed your piece by the way.” “You did?” I’ll say. “Yeah, thought next time I’d say don’t read off the ipad.” I will smile and then remember that I have left my ipad and laptop unprotected in the room. The ushers will be closing the door, and directing us to stand on opposite sides of the room. James will be biking around the space and Gemma will be speaking rhythmically into the mic. I will silently weigh the cost of how awkward I would feel leaving at this point up against the value of my ipad and my computer, and amazingly, I will stay where I am.
I will have seen Action Hero’s piece many times before. I will be worried about my technology, but I will decide to leave it up to the fates. Nothing will go missing. I will force myself into the straits of watching a show I enjoy and know well, and this will almost keep my anxiety about my most expensive and arguably most important posessions at bay. The energy of the Action Hero show will be high and the audience will be responding. I will vascillate between thinking about my laptop and anticipating my favourite moment, the moment I know well, and when it happens I will be glad to be settling into this space where memory and expectation can meet. But as soon as this moment passes, the show will not be as I remembered. Gemma and James will begin doing a dance where there hadn’t been one before. I will look over at Dan, who has also already seen the show, and he will be watching as though there nothing out of the ordinary is happening. But I will be sure this is a new dance. I will wonder whether Action Hero are making it up as they go along.
The audience will explode into applause. I will applaud too. During the dance I will have forgotten my computer and my ipad completely. I will have forgotten everything outside of the room in that moment that was not that dance. The show will end as it usually does, and people will be smiling and shuffling out of the room. I will quickly excuse myself and run back to the room where the peformance was. The lights will be off and the door will be unlocked. As I open the door I will be extremely angry at myself, so angry that the anger will dispel and turn into something like indifference or extreme resignation. The first thing I see will be the white board. On the white board, over top of the drawings, someone will have written the words “Lucy was here” and someone else will have written “THE FUTURE IS SCARY” in caps locks with a smiley face. I will be sure of what I am about to not see when I turn around. Cognitive Dissonance will already have begun to work its ways and I will be thinking of all the reasons that perhaps my practice will be better off without a laptop. I will see my laptop. Sitting on the desk. I will take out my iphone and take a photo of the white board, and I will feel like a lucky fucking idiot.
With my laptop bag weighing down my shoulder, I will wait at the crosswalk. I will look across the canal at the factory building next to Tim Etchell’s projection. I will think it is the most beautiful thing for miles, and wonder if it was an eye sore when it was built. The red man will turn to a green man. I will put my hand instinctively on my laptop bag, and I will across the street, along the path between the shops and the water, past the Italian coffee shop, the Fresh, the brand new bar that claims in quotation marks to be the most beautiful bar in Dublin. Looking at the water as still as glass will make me wish I had a canoe. I will wonder where I would store a canoe if I had one. I will walk through stalks that stretch like luminescent red grass, sticking straight up in front of a glass monolith that is a theatre and I will think, “This could be any city in the world.” I will feel sad. Everything will be empty so I will walk quickly the park built around an old chimney stack and palm tress (palm trees?) outside of block 6. I will place my fob to the door and I will walk past what must be empty post boxes on my right, into the elevator and press number 5. The elevator will beep and I will look in its mirror and imagine I was a different person, the kind of person who would live in this kind of place and who would look in this kind of mirror every day, and be okay with that. I will walk out of the elevator, and go to unlock the door to the catered apartment, and be relieved it is locked. I will stand in the doorway for a moment, terrified, and then I will forced myself to check every hiding spot in the place. I will check behind the curtains by pushing them into the corner, I will check in the many closets, the three bathrooms, I will even check the fridge and a particularly big cupboard in case the intruder could somehow fit in those places. I will realise that places that seem expensive always make me frightened, and I will walk down the hallway into the room where I am staying, brush my teeth, pull the curtains, and get into bed. I will turn off the light on one side of the bed, then hesitate on the other side of the bed. I will think – this place is so new, there couldn’t possibly be a ghost. But I will worry about future ghosts. I will turn off the lights, close my eyes, say a prayer and cross myself as I always do even though I’m not religious or anything like that. I will stack all pillows but one next to my head and think, Don’t worry, the ghost won’t try to smother you in your sleep. I will close my eyes and try not to listen too hard, try not to feel too much, try to shut myself in from the white walls and the concrete and the glass and everything that is so clean, and so beautiful, with such a short memory, and so difficult to fall asleep in.
Forest Fringe Microfestival at the Lir, Dublin, December 13th-15th, 2012
I kept predicting the same future, to see if it would come true.