Last year, I chanced upon a story that compared human emotions with orange juice.
Oranges were already present in my project. As I tagged it under #fatacuportocale (#orangegirl), I was also thinking of anything inspiring me for the project as an orange. Some of them were rotten though, and this story was one of the most rotten.
It said that when you squeez an orange, orange juice will come out of it because that’s what it has inside. As a parallel, if someone squeezes us, kindness or anger will come out depending on what we stored inside. The conclusion being that it’s up to us to store kindness inside so we will respond this way in difficult situations*.
What do you do with an orange after it runs out of juice?
I was already collecting orange peels at this point thinking about making a dress out if them.
I was thinking about using this dress in a performance. I sitted on this idea for almost an year before deciding to integrate the dress to the last work in the project.
At this point, I came up with another idea for a video performance.
I recorded a video with me squeezing and orange and telling a story. A story about how life squeezes us.
This story is about the unreasonable expectation society and each of us have of each other and ourselves, and the consequences these expectations might have on us.
What do you do with an orange when it runs out of juice?
I wanted to combine this performance with scenes of movement with two performers that are in a predetermined dynamic: one controls the other. At on point the situation will evolve so that the two would have to change their positions.
I started rehearsing for this part of the performance with some things in mind, of which the most important was that I didn’t want it to be a choreography.
The begining would always be the same dynamic: one controls the other, until the one who is controlled cannot stay in the same situation and starts to react, either in collaboration, opposition, avoidance or offensive, or anything else that comes to mind on the spot.
I would be the one controlled, and I would hold an orange in one hand. It would just be an element to tie everything together. It represents the transgenrational trauma, I would let go of in the end or not.
For the first rehearsal, the orange wasn’t present, but when we added it, somehow the performance became about it.
This felt appropriate as a collective trauma is not the trauma of some individuals, but if the entire society, specifically if we talk about women as they are the primary caregivers to both girls and boys, therefore transmitting toxic behaviour patterns not only to their daughters, but to their sons as well.
We improvise without something in mind except the general theme described above, but when looking at the recordings we could observe all sort of situations that were very telling for the way things are or could be in relation to this theme.
I had a few endings in mind when we started:
- the dynamic would shift, the one controlled would take charge
- both would decide to cooperate to change things
- the one controlled would die
- the one controlling would give up the fight if the controlled one would oppose too much (the controlled one would make the opposition to the one trying to control them their identity)
However, exploring the theme we found a few other that were even more interesting.
Initially, I thought the ending of the performance would be when I dropped or my partner took the orange.
However, during one of the rehearsals, when he took the orange it didn’t feel like it was the end so we kept going.
What we noticed is that sometimes we identify so much with our trauma that we can’t let it go. It’s also the moment I thought about an individual trauma as having the potential to become the trauma of the entire society. At this point we decided to take into consideration that the orange can become a third performer.
Later, we kept going after the orange was discarded.
This rehearsal was interesting because we chose a dynamic of cooperation and it ended in two surprising ways. The one above and this one where the roles were reversed in the end… but it was nothing like I imagined.
The idea behind not knowing where we will be at the end of the performance is that for any problem, whether it is individual or collective, there is no one solution that works for all individuals and therefore for the entire society. Each of us needs to find their own solutions, accorind to who they are, their history and context. There is no right way to go.
*I read squeezing someone as an abuse.