Motley on Repeat, by Tracy

In creating a performance that was to be witnessed by stressed college students, I decided wanted to make them smile. I wanted to break up their day in an unusual way and give them a story to tell.  To achieve this goal, I decided to emulate Improv Everywhere and perform a version of one of their pranks.

On November 16th 2011, seven students took their places in and around the Motley. We planned a sequence of events that would be repeated over and over. To differ from the Improv Everywhere version, we decided to repeat the sequence at varying intensity levels; we did it 4 times on low, 3 times on medium, and 1 time on high. I was curious as to how many people would notice the lower levels, before we amped it up and made it more obvious.  I wanted a mix of extremely obvious and more subtle parts to our performance; it was to be a kind of game to see which elements people would notice.  Though the performance primarily took place within the Motley, the people outside experienced it as well.

Here are the events that occurred:

  1. Jessica enters the Motley and reunites with her friend Jenna before having to run off to class. Jessica trips as she turns to leave, and has to reassure a concerned Jenna that she is all right.
  2. Sarah gets up from her seat and examines what is for sale. She begins to ask the baristas a question, but is interrupted by a sneeze that causes her to forget what she was going to say. She tells the baristas not to mind, and returns to her seat.
  3. Cornelia drops her belongings, and hurries to pick them up.
  4. Sarah has a coughing fit.
  5. Tracy sees Jenna from across the space. Mistaking Jenna for another friend, she goes to ask her about a homework question. Upon learning of her mistake, she returns to her seat, embarrassed.
  6. Cornelia takes off her shoe, removes a rock, and puts her shoe back on.
  7. Zac’s phone rings and he goes outside to take the call. On his way back, he bumps into Jenna’s chair. Zac apologizes to the irritated Jenna, and returns to his seat.
  8. John enters the Motley singing along to his Ipod, bobbing to the music.
  9. Jessica enters and the loop begins again.

Sarah was the only one who interacted directly with people not in our performance, and the baristas loved it.  Here’s how Sarah described it:

“The first few times they thought that I just honestly couldn’t make up my mind, but then after a few more times, they started asking if they could help me make a decision with my order. “Can we help you decide?  What kind of flavors do you usually like?” and then as my sneezing grew worse and worse, they started asking, “Is it allergies?  Do you want some Benadryl?”  And then by the last time they were catching on and would just start smiling and giggling slightly.”

Similarly, people at first believed that Tracy legitimately kept making the same mistake. Perhaps she was suffering from short-term memory loss? Those who know Jenna and Tracy were especially confused, knowing that they are friends.

When Cornelia pulled bigger and bigger rocks out of her shoe, those next to her were astonished, and very confused.

Of all the actions, John’s singing was the most obvious, and garnered the most reactions. At first people just laughed and shook their heads. As the piece continued and John got louder and more exuberant, the audience’s reactions began to vary. Everybody’s heads shot up each time he entered. Some people laughed, but others, especially by the end, shot him resentful looks.

Some notable quotes from the performance:

“Are we being Punked? We’re being Punked. Where’s Ashton?”

“I have a feeling this is going to be a thing.”

“The second time I was like, they’re trolling us aren’t they.”

One group of girls in particular took a lot of joy in the performance, and stayed the entire time. They explained to their friends the order of events, and seemed to notice almost all of the details.

By the second run, most people had started to notice something odd was happening, but were not entirely certain what. As the intensity rose, it became clearer to the audience that this was a performance. Many took a lot of joy from the performance as they tried to figure out what was happening and to predict what would happen next. Others steadfastly ignored the strange happenings, while a few shot the actors dirty looks.

There were many components to our performance, so not everything went smoothly. Some parts were forgotten, and not all of the transitions between parts were clear. But nonetheless they happened in order, and most importantly, we affected our audience.  For those who allowed themselves to take in their surroundings and enjoy the moment, we brightened their day, and gave them a chance to laugh and smile.

Cornelia’s Rocks:

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Blue River, by YT

Location: Carnegie Building to Bridges Auditorium, across Marston Quadrangle,
Pomona College.
Date: December 10, 2011

In October when we performed the stillness piece Blued http://sitespecific47.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/blued/) on the steps of the Carnegie
Building, I was struck by the way the Carnegie and Bridges Auditorium (“Big
Bridges”) face each other across Marston Quad. I imagined they had stared across
the Quad at each other over many decades, Carnegie watching people stream into
Big Bridges for music and performances, while Big Bridges watched students
climbing the steps of Carnegie for classes in the social sciences. Marston Quad and
the open space between these two buildings is the quiet center of Pomona College.
I wondered what it would be like to make a connection across that space, to tie the
space together visually and physically.

My original idea, to lay down a broad “ribbon” of fabric on which to walk from Bridges to Carnegie and back, was not practicable given the time, funds, and constraints we had such as directing traffic on College Avenue. I’m glad it did not work out. It made me rethink the essence of what I wanted to do and pay more attention to what was around me. I realized that the space was already very connected and all we had to do was make the connection more visible. Our line did not have to be solid, it could be a broken, or a dotted, line. During the Bill McKibben performance (http://sitespecific47.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/bill-mckibben-earthmindedness/) I realized we had another kind of connection, the connection we created as a group and that we practiced through performing together.

So, on a lovely, sunny California winter day we made a line with our bodies, from the
archway of Big Bridges, across the Quad, and all the way up the steps of Carnegie.
With our movements, our stillness, and the sparkling blue fabric that Jessica found,
we worked on connecting with each other across space. It was important also to
connect with the changing environment around us, especially the wind, so each
person had the autonomy to change or stop and affect how the line would flow.

It was wonderful to see it all come together. The line came alive thanks to
everyone’s playful yet focused attention. The best confirmation that it was working
came from kids who were coming out of the Nutcracker performance at Big Bridges.
Some ran out along the line into the Quad while others watched and asked lots of
questions!

I would do this again if I could and further explore stretching out time and being
in stillness. We all started doing more of this towards the end of the performance and it was fascinating because the space, the wind, everything around us, and the connection between the two buildings, became even more alive. It was beautiful.

Many thanks to Jessica and everyone in the Site specific Performance class!


Roxana’s reflection:

Blue River was beautiful! I loved the way the light caught the shimmery blue fabric
and the sound of the fabric as it moved through the air (especially for the Chinese
Opera move). The line of performers wasn’t straight and rigid, but instead it weaved
through Marston Quad like a real river would. Even though College Ave separated
the Quad and Carnegie, there was a clear connection between all the performers. It
was cool!

Unfortunately, I came back late from an appt, thought there was no fabric (I didn’t
see the extra pieces in front of Carnegie until later) and changed out of my black
outfit and took pictures instead. It was kinda awesome seeing the performance
though, because it was so pretty.

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Mother Nurture, by Zac Belok

The norms of Western society demand that gender identity be clearly either male or female, not both. Anything ranging outside the demands of society are labeled as either “butch lesbianism” or “gay transvestism.” Children become the objects of crude jokes and comments, all focusing on their lack of, or abundance of sexuality.

Adult caretakers act as purveyors of culture by providing gender-symbolic dress that encourages children to attribute masculine or feminine gender. Parents are not simply agents of gender socialization but rather act as actors involved in a more complex process of constructing gender with and for their children.

When a child is born, the parent makes a commitment to care for the child and love them unconditionally. In his performance, Oliver wears a white dress to splice the ritual of marriage, onto the relationship between a mother and son, showing that the concept of marriage can have non-romantic implications.

Oliver’s mother made the promise, the day he was born:
“…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.”

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Bike Valet!, by Roxana


Free Range Bikes Bike Valet program is in full swing! We’re ecstatic to finally be able to provide bikes with a program that suits their needs, a program which emphasizes their strengths and helps them reach their full potential and speed on the road. Not convinced? We’ve always felt sorry for bikes without kickstands – because everyone needs something to lean on sometime! Well, we’re now offering a support program for bikes without kickstands, showing them new ways to support each other and how to cope if they have experienced any discrimination or pressure.

Our group has always believed bikes are people, too – when we held a trial program of the Bike Valet service in front of Frary (at Pomona College) last Thursday, we met someone who asked us, incredulously: “You know bikes aren’t people, right?”. It made the soul of yours truly die a little inside. In the words of one our volunteers, that really grinded my gears. What does that say about the state of humanity right now, when we can’t treasure our relationships with our bikes?

The trial program was successful, in any case! We had a number of fans, even one guy who began chanting “Free Range Bikes! Every day!” or something similar. Watch the video for all the deets! Also, we’re looking to hire more Valets! Some members of our team have more than 15 years of being in the business, but don’t let that stop you from applying! Everyone deserves the chance to be a Valet, and let us know why we should choose you! Some successful applications have been from people who’ve spent time in no-lock communities – where its against the law to lock your bikes to a metal bike rack (because we think that’s inhumane!) Also, offering neat services like yoga for bikes, being great at expressive storytelling, aromatherapy, etc. will only help your application! If you decide you don’t want to apply, we hope you support our program! Let’s start treating bikes the humane way!
 

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Divided Fans! by Chrysanthe

At least among my social circle, there seems to be a general consensus that people don’t care about athletics on the 5C’s.  And yet the rivalry between Pomona-Pitzer and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps fuels divisive stereotypes (CMC bro vs. Pomona chiller nerd) and clever slogans on T-shirts (Puck Famona…well, not that clever).  My friend Luke even got decked by a CMC dude after reveling in PP basketball team’s victory over CMS.

School rivalries can be fun but they shouldn’t exist as a means to divide and vilify each other!  Two people from opposite teams should be able to argue for their side and then agree to disagree and proceed onward with the conversation.  Ultimately, students on the 5C’s share the same food, resources, and community, so why keep emphasizing our differences?

Thus, we embodied the PP-CMS split within our bodies at the homecoming football game, so that when the left side of CMS was cheering, the right side of PP was drooping and cursing their luck, and vice versa.  We made a striking visual presentation, with our faces painted half-blue, hallf-maroon, that made more than a couple people chuckle.  But this performance also made me realize to what extent performance art is made to be video taped.  As you can see above, our theatrical side took over, and thus we embodied characters based on the stereotypes of each side.

Were we playing into the very idea that we were trying to complicate?  Perhaps.  Which
begs the question: to what extent is a performance for the live audience as opposed to the online audience? And even for the performers themselves? Either way, now that we’ve done this once, I’d definitely want to refine our performance and do it again.  Next semester, PP CMS basketball game anyone?

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Crookshank Geometry, by Ellen

The symmetry and geometry in the Stanley Academic Quad is unmistakable. From the slantinng rooves of the surrounding buildings to the intersecting paths, the shapes and angles create a visually dynamic environment for a performance piece.

I wanted to find positions in which we could align our bodies with the natural lines in the space and in doing so, make the symmetry more palpable to both performers and viewers. We rotated between tangents, parallels, and skews creating what I hoped would be a meditative kaleidoscope effect. We listened to the water and moved together through the cycle of the poses—each one ending by walking in a complete circle around the fountain.

I want to thank Jessica and Tera for fliming and photographing and the performers. I hope everyone is no longer sore :-).

 

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Wind Up Doll, by Seo


This is something that I know is true of almost everybody I know.  There are just some days that are tougher than others and all you want to do is go back to bed and hope that the next time you wake up, it’ll all be better.  On days like that, I am always reminded of just how much I need the love and support of my friends and professors.  But they’re not just around on bad days to make them better, they’re around on normal days to turn good days into great ones.  Every time that I get a smile or a hug from my friends, I know that I am loved, and little moments like this help me get through my day, even if it’s already a good day.
But it’s not just friends.  Sometimes, strangers impact your day more than friends ever could.  Maybe by holding a door open, or helping you pick up something you dropped, or just smiling at you because they’re having a great day; these are also little moments that help us get by, whether we realize them as such or not.  After all, how much can a stranger ruin your day just by being a little rude or insensitive?
For this project, I tapped into that on a more literal level.  As you can see, without the help of others, I cannot move forward.  This is also something that’s true of all of us.  Some need less help than others, some need more, but all of our lives revolve around each other because we are human.  None of us can do it all on our own.  None of us are Supermen/Superwomen.
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