Reasons for Research: David's thoughts on Action Orson... or I understand everything better


An introduction to ACTION ORSON, or I Understand Everything Better:


During hurricane Katrina (2005), I was transfixed by the image of a lone reporter on a beach, whipped by the same preposterously strong winds he was describing. This figure, prone and beset with calamity, occupied my imagination the way a mysterious song can find its way into consciousness in a permanent loop. I couldn’t shake it.

Several years later hurricanes Irene and Sandy came, both massive and wildly destructive storms, and if not quite signs of earth’s end, then certainly evidence that yes, indeed, significant change was upon us.

And there were those lone figures again. Single human forms silhouetted by sand and rain reporting on wind gusts, wave heights, evacuation plans.

While leaning into 100-mile-per-hour winds, these harbingers of doom couldn’t help but shout the obvious: “We’re currently getting wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour!”

I see the palm trees behind them bend to breaking.

Was this the beginning of the end for us? What should that be like, I wondered. Will it truly be television reporters describing the end? In the meantime, why don’t they just get back in their news trucks or whatever and find shelter from those crazy winds?

Then a delightfully terrifying thought crept in: what if that was really what a life was? What if we measured this life as one long report on the inevitable end? All our story-telling, conversations, all our reporting, art-making, gossiping--all of it--would mean very little if we didn’t die. More specifically, it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t know we were going to die. And what happens to us as we get closer to that moment?

Those of us who do “report”, that is to say, communicate to others as instinct or vocation, be it scientist, teacher, artist, meteorologist, etc., often feel compelled to do so, even in the face of extreme danger or worse, not being able to pay the rent.

ACTION ORSON or, I Understand Everything Better is in part a response to these observations and a report from interdisciplinary choreographer David Neumann’s own perspective on what the coming end might mean.

ACTION ORSON or, I Understand Everything Better is a dance piece with text, a collaborative effort between Neumann, Tei Blow, Sibyl Kempson and other artists yet to be determined. It is a contradiction: a solo for more than one person. It is also Neumann’s first solo work in nearly ten years. ACTION ORSON will premiere in the Spring of 2015 and will include a relationship between movement, text, music and probably some reports from the oncoming storm.