As Sally Potter travels around the world with 'YES'
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Into the moment

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Into the moment

I could not sleep too well. It was partly the extreme heat and humidity here in New York and partly sending the poem to San Francisco which has led to me feeling very over-excited at the possibility of a faster working process, using the net, where the transition from an idea through its realization to its audience happens within hours or days rather than years. It feels a bit like the joy of improvising that I experienced most acutely and regularly when I was an improvising singer/musician. Those years, making a new show night after night on the road throughout Europe, were the Zen apotheosis of my career, a great teaching about coming into the moment. The audience is involved, there and then, in the unfolding of a spontaneous composition, in which their energy as watchers and listeners is as important to the totality of the event as the work of the musicians themselves. Literally, in being heard, the work comes into being.

In some of my early solo performance-art pieces I set myself, similarly, the task of walking into a theatre or gallery space with an entirely empty mind. The challenge for me was how to make something out of nothing. The metaphysics of the performing space was my preoccupation, philosophically. Sometimes the terror of the unknown meant that I vomited in the wings of the theatre before going out to face the audience, as in a nightmare, with no script and no clue of what I was going to do. I don’t think I have ever been as brave since. (I don’t have a very clear memory of what the shows consisted of, either, except that they always involved an improvised monologue, but as I resolutely refused any form of documentation as well, believing that would corrupt me into slyly working for posterity rather than the moment, I also have no record: no photograph, no video, just the tiny traces that may or may not remain in the memories of the audiences).

But back to this moment, and to you, the exclusive reader/audience member of this site, whoever and wherever you are. The mystery of not knowing who is reading what I am writing here has a certain allure. And the process of generating material for this site is a teaching for me about letting go a little of my innate desire for perfection that usually manifests as a seemingly endless cycle of re-writing before anything I do goes public. The demands of the net – just as in a personal email – are that immediacy is more important than precise punctuation or spelling; sometimes, indeed, in the gaps, the dyslexic spelling and weird grammar in an email you feel the speed in the hand of the writer and the ‘mistakes’ are an intrinsic part of its dynamic flow.

I am not yet sure if the relatively un-honed output, in this blog for example, is a good thing or not, (I cannot imagine ever allowing a film of mine to be so rough) but it is keeping me on my toes – always a good place to be. A dancer’s place.

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Sally Potter, Jacky Lansley, Janet Krengel & Fergus Early in Aida

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FIG performing in Europe

Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated