About the second residency
Written by Saskia de Haas
The last residency ended in the dark. That was not the ending of the story. It was only the beginning. And this is the sequel.
This sequel starts in the light, only three weeks after the last residency. Where our last residency was all about visiting places, talk with people about silence and experiment in the dark, this residency we will dive deeper into stillness.
It is a Sunday afternoon when Livia arrives in Heerlen. With a bag full of blue pencils and white papers, she goes to places in and around Heerlen. She is searching for various perceptions on stillness. She wants to collect all kinds of perceptions of different kinds of people. From demented elderly people, to children at an elementary school. From psychiatric patients to high school girls. From experienced drawers, to almost never touched a pencil before. For one woman stillness is darkness, while for a young boy of 14 years, silence is that moment after an explosion. A twelve year old girl experiences silence when she is riding her horse.
Eric arrives on Tuesday in the evening. He is not alone. He brought his dramaturge Marine and blind performer Emmanuel. Emmanuel is a 40 year old men who lives and grew up in French, but was born in Vietnam. Emmanuel is always making music. And with always, I mean always. I can imagine him still playing with sounds while brushing his teeth, or waiting for the train. Emmanuel only saw in his first years of his live when he still lived in Vietnam. When he closes his eyes, he can picture how Vietnam looks like, but he isn’t sure what is his imagination and what is reality.
It is Wednesday morning. Eric starts with a workshop with Leroy, a 23 year old guy from Amsterdam. He became blind when he was two months old. He can see the difference between light and darkness. If there is a lot of light he might see some shadows, but he can’t see shapes.
Eric invites Bart on the floor as well. Bart closes his eyes. He, Leroy and Emmanuel starts to move together, while Eric gives them instructions. It is quite touching to look at. It is very intimate. Afterwards Bart tells us he got more sensible, because he closed his eyes. He became more aware of things. He could connect with the others more easily.
In the afternoon we dive deeper into the dark. It is not as dark as we want it to be. There are still some little stripes of light. We can see shadows and shapes. In this darkness, Leroy and Emmanuel walk around while making sounds. They are humming, hissing and making clicking sounds with their tongues. It is both interesting and strange. I enter a more abstract and sensible world.
The next day we are in full darkness. Like the dark of the deep ocean. This time there is no difference in eyes closed and eyes open. I can feel Emmanuel’s breathing on my skin, when he comes closer. The dark can be scary. In the dark, everything seems possible. I have to surrender to the dark and fully trust him. I notice how Emmanuel can ‘see’ so much more than us. He can feel our body heat. He can smell us. He knows what he is doing when he moves us through space. I know he knows. We all know.
For our last morning together, we arranged an audience to experiment with. I am standing on a small stage, with seventeen other people. People start to chuckle when Bart turns off the lights. I guess because they feel uncomfortable. We are not used to darkness anymore. Like we are not used to silence.
After a few moments it is completely still. I am surprised. In darkness stillness becomes more still. Emmanuel moves criss-cross through the audience. He moves fast. People are wondering what they are hearing. Is it a dog? Do they hear keys? Is he dancing?
Afterwards they tell us it sharpened their ears. But also their imagination.
In the afternoon Livia goes back to Romania with more than hundreds of blue drawings about silence. Eric goes back to French, with his crew. And we, we are left behind with our senses sharpened and a lot of new impressions.