Going back a bit, as usual…
Pedro Antunes is a Portuguese friend who helped us with Doublethink a few years back, and has been working as a theatre artist in/as BIG ODD. He also works regularly at the BAC and was in the audience during THE BAGWELL IN ME, one of Ann Liv-Young‘s recent shows there during the excellent BURST festival, where besides her usual shock tactics she ended up demanding that the BAC producer responsible for the poor audience numbers come on stage and explain themselves. Enter Richard Dufty.
Richard later asked Pedro to write an account of what happened, from his side. I’ll let the text (and P’s great voice through it) speak for itself – in any case the confused whirl of memories, thoughts, and problematic reactions summarize quite well how I came away from her work too (though I saw a different show, SOLO). Pedro explained:
My written English is not very good, as i wrote it straight after the show and a bit more on the day after,
so it’s more like an impulsive reaction in words.
that’s what Richard wanted, so if you don’t understand some of the words please let me know.
but yes, it was very mental and unique
unforgettable and I’m still digesting it, i still have the whole thing coming back to my head.
and i think I’ve change my mind about some of the stuff that I wrote!!
– – – – – – – – –
Ann-Liv Young starts to count how many people are seated in the auditorium – and she counts 25.
Then she asks for the capacity of the space, a member of the audience helps her to minus that figure by the total capacity and she calls for the producer of the show and the marketing person:
Richard comes up and his handed in a microphone, (so that his voice can be distorted / manipulated / ridiculous)
Ann-Liv Young (her voice has a low male voice distortion) starts a confrontation / debate / venting her frustration with the venue, accusing the festival lead produce:
She was infuriated and asks all the questions that came up to her mind:
Who da fuck runs this theatre?
Who is the marketing person?
Is this a British thing?
Did you ever receive any performers from the US?
Where do you get your money from – it’s certainly not form the people, as the audience is empty?
This was certainly ‘one of the most incredible experiences’ that if had during this performance, the live and real debate, the washing of ones dirty linemen in public, the sharing of her frustration with the receiving venue, the live and extreme debate, yet all covered / framed and within the performance, amplified and distorted by the microphones, and always filmed, like we were in a cheap American TV live debate:
She wants more; she is putting all her effort to be kicked out of the show, to be pushed on the face by the tech guy (in this case it was Greg), to have the show cancelled by the producer – to have the live programme cut off – and yet, the producer lets it run.
Greg can’t stand it any longer, jumps out of the tech box to defend the BAC Senior Producer and to drag me him out from the inferior and ridiculous position that Ann-liv has given him – this was a very touching act – of a person acting on behalf of other (for real). Greg really stood up for Richard – he felt offended and was very shocked – Greg didn’t care anymore about his role or about is contract or about is job. He just couldn’t stand Ann- Liv telling all that shit to Richard and taking the piss of him and of his ridiculous voice. It was a very brave / pure/ genuine / touching act of altruism and camaraderie. I was with tears in my eyes, during this moment of Ann Liv Young performance!!
It was raw, extreme and strong.
Ann-Liv Young, couldn’t have found an easier target to generate rough and live emotion and extreme forms of behaviour in her performance, but a technician (in this case Greg) – the producers are somehow invisible, they merge into the audience (although Richard Dufty came to give voice to the BAC) and the ‘London’ audience offered resistance – although she tried. The technician is working, it’s easy to be indentified, he is working – somehow performing for the show (as he is always behind the tech box), and they have a professional relationship, even if they don’t know each other – so he was the perfect target.
That was surely one of the most memorable experiences that I had in a theatre (and I’m not being judgemental)… either if you like it or not! you need to accept and recognise that was something unforgetful, not so much because of the content of the show or the porn scenes, but more because of all the harassment, the bulling and swearing at the institutions (in this case the BAC) and to it’s members, and to the commercial / financial / transactional relationship between producer and performer,
quoting Ann-live Young speaking with the audience: ‘do you guys know, how much we have been paid to be here at BAC? They paid us £200!!! I’m only joking, it was £3000’,
She is giving to the producer (in this case Richard Dufty) the role of cheap porn producer (please note that this conversation was done with voice distortion – and Richard had a very feminine voice). This scene becomes a real moment of a producer struggling / trying to deal with the rough / nasty porn actresses that he has contracted / programmed (in this case programmed) for his film (festival) – They really took this backstage porn scenario to an extreme, playing with real emotions and with real fact, but framing it on stage – labelling it as live art.
On this respect, I think that Richard was an amazing producer – because he didn’t interrupt the show at any point (I believe that not many people would be to deal so calmly and with confidence with all the insults!!) and accepted the role that Ann_liv Young gave him ( the porn producer, that was trying abuse them or not pay them properly)
Theses were some of the audience, comments reactions on the night (that I can remember of):
– I came here to see your work and paid for tickets and I don’t care about your issues with the BAC, can you please show us your performance? (Ezara’s mother)
– Ann Liv Young: This is the performance, if you don’t like than leave – the door is there
– Ezara’s Mother: But I want to see the real show, the scenes, the blurb that I’ve read on the brochure!!!
– Ann Liv Young: ok, you want to know the story, so here it goes: ‘once upon a time there was a little girl, and that girl was me. And my mother told me to not hang around with black people, because there was something wrong with them. I know that she was wrong, even being so little…’ and so on.
– A guy that was seated beside Will (producing intern): Ok Ann-Live I got the point, we are all depressed and this is a therapy session, so who is next!!
And then after a while they finally started the performance or in other words ‘they finally started the play – play with each other and with the audience’:
And that was no longer the performance / live art, that was live hardcore porn / fetishism / pip show with some political and racial content (although the nature of the shocking scenes consumed / shadowed / undermined the meaning behind the scenes), I was no longer thinking about slavery, racisms or American politics, but thinking to myself, she is licking a pussy on stage (ok!), she is fucking the other woman (ok!) she is very radical and extreme (ok!) they are filming her (ok!)
Towards the end (after getting used to all the sex and violence) I started to become disappointed with Ann-Liv Young because after all that wildness / bitterness and crescendo, they didn’t even reach the climax / orgasm (and I could see that she had the BALLS to do it), she just showed us that she uses sex in her shows, ok…!!! Coming back to the whole porn film scenario, as a producer paying £3000 for the ‘show’, I would ask for some of the money back – not good enough – if it’s to be a porn, than do it properly!!!!.
I thought the whole thing of the reading dialogue boring!!
Yes, I’ll never forget this moment (not a good memory though!! Very disturbing)
It was a show that generated extreme reactions (during the show and afterwards), made me remember when I was a student taking my Theatre Studies BA in Portugal, when I had to study very famous directors from the 60’ and 70’s like Richard Foreman, and their performances would have enormous impact in the audience and a big part of the audience would leave and deeply hate his shows. And I couldn’t understand how people at the time would hate so much these directors / companies, and how it was possible they are now being part of the programme of studies in universities!!
Ok, Ann-Liv Young can be basic and vulgar on her actions,
And her performance can be full of performance art conventions and basic clichés, but she is very much alive and ‘on your face’
She certainly marks your memory as a spectator and gives you a truly participative / interactive show – even if in a malicious and non-ethical way.
Her show opens a lot of discussion and originates a lot of critical and ethical debates.
I doubt that Greg was ever so emotionally involved in a show during his employment history at BAC
And I’m sure I never wrote such long text about a performance since I’ve started to work at BAC.