Imagine this: one day you receive a personal invitation to an abandoned hardware store. Huh, that’s strange. Out of curiosity, you visit the space. It’s empty. The place is empty save for a notebook. You open the notebook and find a story about a man searching for a cellist, a music recording, and a picture of a prairie.
Several days later, you’re in a car being taken somewhere you don’t know. It turns out that somewhere is the airport. You’re given a ticket and put on a plane and end up in Saskatchewan, Canada. You’re driven to a prairie (the one that was in the picture!), where you find a cellist playing a variation of the music from the recording.
Freaky dream, right?! But it wasn’t a dream! It was a series of scenes from a production by Odyssey Works. Seriously:
When I Left the House it Was Still Dark (2013) was a long durational, ephemeral performance made for an audience of one. The creative process for this performance, as with other Odyssey Works projects, is an act of attentiveness and devotion. The team spends several months studying the participant before beginning to compose a set of experiences designed to move him or her in a profound way.
You read that correctly--an audience of ONE. In this instance, it was the author Rick Moody. Over the course of several months, Moody was given experiences created just for him. In addition to performers, friends and family participated as well, blurring the lines between reality and production.
Dancers in red appeared in the streets, on the subways, on the Brooklyn Bridge. A review of the story about the cellist appeared on NYTimesBooks.com. When meeting new people, it became increasingly hard for Rick to distinguish whether they were performers or just people. The border between the quotidian and the performative became inapparent. Rick found his life completely overtaken by Odyssey Works' actors, dancers, musicians, and set designers.
It’s kind of bonkers, right? Odyssey Works began in 2001 as a way to explore the relationship between art and audience and how art can impact an audience. The founders sought to truly change the life their audience, and what better way to guarantee that that happens than to focus on just one person at a time.
Anyway, this entire concept is blowing my mind in all the best possible ways, especially as we reflect on our immersive experiment that was HOUSE PARTY (and gear up for another one with FREAKS).
Would you want a piece created for you? What do you think it would be about? As you ponder these question and more, here are some artifacts from the production created for Rick Moody: