Feelings in The Felt Room
When describing my initial experience in The Felt Room, “daunting” is a understatement. I did not know what to expect when walking into the foyer of the performance. My journey started by removing my snow boots, heart pounding in anticipation. Notebook in hand and ready for action, I waited patiently to discover the art hidden behind black curtains. After a short while a woman suddenly addressed the crowd waiting alongside me. She offered us our first glimpse of the details of The Felt Room performance as she explained how to carefully open and close the double curtained entrance as to not disturb the ambiance of the performance. She gestures to the paper sitting aside and invites us to materialize the sensations of our individual experiences within The Felt Room.
And then we entered.
Consciously we entered embarked on the entrance. Opening one curtain, a group stepped into a space between the two, closing it around them and opening the second into the exhibit. The process of entering alone was enough to spike my excitement. It was as if the curators were hiding a rare treasure and we were the select few who where able to see it.But what worried me most was that when the curtain opened-
I saw nothing.
We were shrouded in darkness which was the last thing I expected to see-or not see in this case. Everyone slowly shuffled into the interior, dispersing from my line of site. I hesitantly moved through the dark space as well. I felt out the floor with my feet sweeping through the darkness as strange noises arose around me. People huffing, chortling to my sides, then bellow,near, then far, amplified the eerie atmosphere of the room. I felt vulnerable and confused as if I were the outsider of some strange joke and the lights would reveal the four corners of the room and all the people in it any at any minute. Never in my life had I realized how much my security depended on being able to have visual knowledge of my surroundings. Of course the idea had always been in the back of my mind as my greatest fear in life is sudden blindness, but I had tucked it away as an irrationality.
In that moment I was living my greatest fear.
My feet continued to slide through the space as if the floor would fall from beneath them with the wrong step. The voices seemed to get louder as my heart beat erratically. I tried to steady my self and shuffled to the right where I thought there might have been be a wall; I have never desired a wall so much in my life. I did not find one.
Perhaps it was my accelerated heart beat, the noises, my vulnerability that pushed the words from my mouth.
“This is f*cking scary,” I vomited out. The chuckles I received in response where comforting. They reminded me that I was not alone and that there were humans in the room and not just noises. However, the tension did not break for a while. I continued to slide as the noise rose again but when I realized that the light would not be coming on anytime soon, I was riveted in place. The joking was over; my fear of the unknown got the best of me and tapped out. I whispered once again, but this time it was a plea. “Could some one help me leave please?”
And they did.
A faceless hand touched my arm and guided me a few steps to the right where there was a second exit on the far side of the room. My hand was placed on a curtain and slid out quickly before voicing my gratitude and receiving a quaint whisper in response.
I find it interesting how the someone who contributed to the object of my fear instantly became a savior. When I opened the second curtain I was encased in light once again. It was then that I realized that I clutched an unused notebook in my hand. I was so focused on the knowledge that I did not have that I forgot myself and my entire purpose for being there in the first place. So I sat and I wrote what I felt in The Felt Room.
The Felt Room 01/19/17
It has been well over a month. After mulling over the physical and mental impacts of my experience in The Felt Room I decided to attend the performance again.
I arrived in the foyer of the 02/23/17 performance with determination tattooed across my face. Going through the motions of sliding my snow boots off and unplugging my earbuds like a pro-athlete.
My body was ready.
Everything went much faster. I arrived right at the start of the performance and was grateful to find comfort in Judith before a woman began to address the crowd. Interestingly enough, this time she addressed the additional exit and instructed everyone to enter one by one. By the time it was my turn to pass through the curtains and thrust myself into darkness once again, I was ready. I opened one black veil, carefully shut it, then opened the second unto my fate before closing my self into it.
The room was alive.
Noises at various elevations and distances sprung around me once again. They were no less scary than the last time I heard them, but this time I planned to listen. Shuffling more confidently than before, I move to the left of the room, take a deep breath to center myself in the moment, and lower to the ground.
And there in that moment, I listen to the darkness. There are groans from afar, and rough puffs of air, queer sounds of wiggling bodies below as sound come to visit for a moment the dissipate into the darkness once again. Some time it would linger so close to me that it was all I could hear before it move on to a different part of the room. After listening to the sounds coming from the performers play in the darkness for what may have been five minutes I felt an arm on my leg. It slid innocently by one of my crossed legs taking the sound away with it. Then I felt a back against my own as a body slithered around my position on the floor with the shuffling of friction caused by our cloths as they made contact. As this repeated I began to feel a strange calm. The unidentifiable noises and brisk touches lulled me into a state where I did not feel the need to know or do anything but acknowledge what was going on around me.
It was a beautiful thing.
Suddenly light broke in the room and told a new story. My eyes met with faces from the crowd I entered with around the room; most were against the wall. The performers were also illuminated, each individual in a distinct white garb. They continue to make various indistinguishable noises as the move their bodies in abstract position. They bended, twisted, slithered and swayed aimlessly around the audience as if we were no different from them. In a way we were all performers in The Felt Room.
Little did I know, my performance would not end there. The bodies adorned in white withdrew from the audience to tangle with one another physically and vocally before the dark ascended again. The floor around me began to writhe as the clothes bodies brushed past me in the darkness. Their destination was a pile of white cloths that were positioned behind me. Sometime earlier in the performance I reached out to grab a strand near me in hopes of identifying it. I turn around to see the white bodies moving languidly in the pile of cloths. Their faces were hidden and all could be seen was a pile of limbs clutching one another as they tangled through the cloth. I drew my legs up to my chest intrigued at the sight of bodies figuratively detached from the part of us that make us most human. I was so entranced that I did not realize that a mass of limbs began to inch in my direction.
I watched as a hand appeared from the mass and braced on my knee. Then an arm pushed down on my shoulder for support and another draped cloth over my face. Before I knew it I became apart of the piece in an unexpected way; and I felt honored to support something so inexplicably beautiful.
Thank the stars no one smelled.
The piece ended in a series of electronic sounds that emphasized the post modern movements of the performers. I watched as they played with the hands of audience members, walked the length of the room, and laid statically on the floor in a chaotic yet appealing choreography. Finally one by one, with out transition, each performer turned and left from the curtains we entered through as if leaving a show we put on for them.
What began in darkness ended in light as the spectacle became spectators and fright became might. I truly enjoyed this experience and if asked to go again, I would not put up a fight.
Feelings in The Felt Room