Frank Moore’s
Reality Playings
experiments in experience/participation performance

at Temescal Arts Center, Oakland, California
Saturday, May 16, 2009


5/17/2009

As Sidney said, the performance last night went beyond the normal boxes of “GOOD, “ “BETTER, “ “THE BEST,“ going into the direct experiencing of reality…  which is my definition of shamanism.  We met Sidney at the Claremont Retirement Community years ago.  She excitedly supported my run for the Presidency.  Now she brought her grown-up daughter Susan to this performance to participate fully!  It was that kind of a night!   Starting with losing my bassist from New York City.  He showed up early and went for a bite to eat…  and did not come back.  We found out afterwards he came down with a violent case of food poisoning and had to go to the emergency room.  Ironically the rest of his band came down with the flu the week before and flew back home! 

Ok, Central Casting can stop sending uptight actresses!  For the second time in a row, the performance started with me dealing with a sour faced actress.  But it quickly became a musical exploration of the spiritual and philosophical core through playing, with a healthy dose of pure fun.    A lot of the music base was provided by the hip hop artist with too many names…  So I just call him SON!  Others in the cast: the philosophical author, the environment designer, the performance student, and the guy who saw my campaign speech at Il Corral in Los Angeles, but missed my jam.   Read on to find out what happened! 

DA BOYZ:

So we hustled our asses to the space, got unloaded in no time, and parked.  And then you guys were already there.  It was really fun setting up, as always ... it felt like we were getting into a groove.  The new gels were really nice ...  The bassist, Matt, showed up a little bit before you guys arrived.  He said he would be back ... we were just setting up ... he had gotten there early, and had some pizza and a beer, he said ....   He would be back.  But then he never came back .... because of the way he seemed shocked by the space, by Frank, we imagined that it all must have not met his expectations, and he bailed!  But when we got back, we heard that there was an email from him, that he had gotten food poisoning, ended up in the ER, and was heading back to New York!  He kept thanking Frank ... whoa!! 

As we were finishing set-up, a woman arrived, slowly, cautiously making her way in ... it turned out it was another actress starting off the performance!  Frank started talking with her ... she was an actress who had performed a lot of her own pieces ... Frank suggested that they could do an improv together ...  he also had her read the "rehearsal", which had been written for any actresses that might have shown up to the last performance for the audition part of it.  She could hardly make it through it ... she seemed to get very uncomfortable, and said it wasn't for her (even though Frank hadn't actually asked her to do it) ... and before too long, she had moved off of the mats to a dark corner of the space, watching ...  But more people had arrived, and Frank started talking to them one by one ... the writer/philosopher who had written a book comparing Jesus and Lao Tzu .... the young san francisco transplant to Berkeley, who was into experimental performance ... the guy who created environments with gardens and stonework ...    We heard how Jesus and Lao Tzu shared many of the same ideas, and Frank talked about how there is a core message that most of the spiritual "superstars" have in common ....  and the environment guy, Chuck, said it was what Aldous Huxley called "The Perennial Philosophy" ...   

Frank talked with the young performance artist ... he asked him to do an improvisation with Frank ... he didn't seem to get that Frank wanted him to come up with something ... that Frank was handing it over to him to create something .... when it was put on to him, he didn't seem to be able to jump in ... he suggested that they could play music ... and Frank gestured to all the "audience" members ... there are his musicians!  There was a lull .... a lackluster quality ... we wondered what could come out of this ... But, there was Frank, just pushing ...  We talked about it later, how there are always these moments, and sometimes lots of them, where others in the same position might give up on it, think that it wasn't going to work out ....   But Frank always ploughed ahead ... used everything!  Right out of this moment, Frank had the philosopher sit next to him and read his "credit card morality", which was just the absolute perfect thing for this writer of philosophical subjects!  Somewhere in there, Sidney and her daughter Susan arrived, sitting off to the side at first and then closer to Frank in chairs that Mikee and Alexi brought for them.  Wow!  It was really neat to see Sidney there!  Everything seemed to shift ...   And it was really neat to hear the philosopher make commentary on Frank's piece right after he finished it.  Frank had asked him to do that!  He really did seem to get what Frank was saying.  And Chuck said too that it was an exploration of themes that most of us here probably recognize, that we are all seeking alternatives to, these days ...

Then Sidney talked about a book she had been reading, about the origination of money ... and how money, at the beginning, was tied up with sexual exchange .... women received money for sex ... and they could use the money to become more independent, to start their own businesses ...  Fascinating!  It was really neat to hear Sidney talk, and then later, Frank had Susan talk about Sidney, and their relationship ... Everything deepened ... Susan talked about Sidney's "randomness", which they give psychiatric terms for, but Frank said he calls it "nonlinear", and Sidney said some people have said, "non sequitur" ...  it was really neat to hear Sidney talk about everything.  It was intense how much Erika had meant to her and the others at the Claremont, and how totally she has let so many people down. 

So then, Frank had Sidney and Susan undress Linda and Jen and put on their "costumes", so that he didn't get into shit with our neighbor Betty!!  Who is counting on Frank to get Linda wearing her jewelry!  They both jumped at the chance, and soon the clothes were off, and Jen, Linda, Sidney and Susan were all dancing around ...  Oh yeah, that's because, meanwhile, Kene-J, a.k.a. "Son", as Frank called him, had arrived!  And Frank put "son" right to work!  Kene-J got right into playing on the keyboard, laying down beats, getting everything rocking and rolling.  And then doing his own songs while Jen and Linda put costumes on Sidney and Susan.  It was really fun, the energy totally transformed, opened, lightened.  Meanwhile, the young performance artist, and the philosopher took off!  Frank had earlier asked the performance artist what he was looking for in acting, performing? .... he had said he wanted to lose himself in a character, in a performance, or in a dance or music ...  Frank kept coming back to him, asking him if he had lost himself yet??  At one point, he said he had somewhat lost himself at the end of one of the music jams ...  but then he took off!  Right when things were really deepening ...

Then Frank was going around and talking with everyone about their experience of the night thus far ... Susan said something really neat in response to a question from Frank:  how come she and Sidney risked the way they did?  Susan said she is around her son, 15, and nephew, 23, a lot, and for them the most important things are things that are "awesome" ... "awwwweeesome!"  And if things are "sweet".  "Sweeeet!"  And it is important to always be "chill".  So she is taking a lot to heart from them ... 

And still it was not over .... a young guy came in very close to the end .... his name is Joe, and he had actually seen Frank perform down in L.A. at Il Corral during the presidential campaign.  He had missed the jam, but had seen Frank's speech.  He had seen a flier on University Ave., and was sorry he was so late! 

It was really neat to hear how many people came to the performance from seeing fliers around town.  It was the first time that we could remember getting so much feedback, so consistently, about how well the fliers work!  Just another level of how amazing these performances are! 

So Joe came in and sat down ... and soon Frank asked him, "What is under your ass??"  He had grabbed the bag of Gestures, and used it as a pillow!  It was his fate!  Frank had him go up to each person in the room, pull out a gesture, read it and then do that gesture with the person.  He was totally game, with complete innocence ... people laughed because it was so random!  And he wondered aloud if he was the butt of a big joke ... what had happened before he got there???  Frank told everyone not to tell!  But Joe didn't really care ... he just kept going, with an openness and a passion for it!  It was really neat.  And he went up to Mikee first!  Next thing you know, he is rubbing asses with Sidney!  So much fun ...   Later, he said he didn't want to leave ....  He was the last one to leave. 

It was really neat what everyone said at the end, especially Chuck.  He really encapsulated a lot of what had happened during the performance when he talked about how people come in with expectations, including himself, even if he thinks he isn't ... he still was!  And the process one goes through in letting those expectations go, and just melting into the experience ....  the randomness!  Sidney and Susan were going to get together with Frank ....  Frank asked Kene-J why he kept coming back to these performances, and he said because his "normal" is "the unexpected".  He said he lives for that!  Amazing ...

We were talking about all this afterward, breaking down the set, and driving home ...  There was so much about the performance, and this series in general, which is so amazing, so deep ...  It was neat to hear Linda talk about how someone could write a treatise about what Frank does, and how it relates to how to approach life in general ... he perseveres, he keeps grinding away where others might give up, or assume, or judge things to have failed ....  Frank just keeps going ... and this is what happens ...

After all the loading in at both houses, giving Kittee a walk, putting stuff away ... we got the pizzas heating up, tossed the salad, and put on BTV, watching Annie's Herstory of Porn!  Ahh, BTV!  This is what they were trying to get rid of ... imagine how many people were enjoying this show right then! 

We were crashing ... we got up to clean up, and then sat down again afterward to do our teeth and watch Michael Peppe on Best of FMUP ... a great interview!  This is what people would be losing.  Criminal. 

 

JEN:

After loading up, we were all set.  It was a hot day.  We got Frank into the car and headed to the space, with a quick return home to grab the tapes.  When we got to the space the boyz had already unloaded so we got to work setting things up, putting up gels on the lights, backdrops, swag table, sound system, costumes etc.  We never know what's going to happen so we're prepared for anything.  Fun!

The first woman came in and hung back until Frank called her closer.  She said she was an actress who did improv.  She agreed to do an improv with Frank.  Then Frank had her read the rehearsal that he had written for the second performance in this series, using another piece that he had written years ago as the backbone.  She read it but you could feel resistance.  Afterwards she said that she didn't think she could do that piece with him.  Just then a man came in and sat down.  Frank asked him what he did.  He was a writer and a philosopher.  He talked about the book he had written comparing Jesus with Lao Tzu.  He described the similarities between the two.  Frank said that all the spiritual superstars had the same core message. 

More people started coming into the space.  Another guy who was an improv actor, someone who was an environment creator, and then Sidney and her daughter Susan.  Frank talked to everyone.  The improv actor said that he was looking for experiences where he can lose himself.  He agreed to do an improv with Frank, but when he was called to start, he just suggested everyone play music, so Frank went with that and got the mic on to vocalize.  Frank also asked the philosopher to come up and read Credit Card Karma from Frank's book of writings.  It was perfect!  The actress who had been hanging out on the fringe left.  We all jammed while the philosopher read about how plastic people have become, always keeping their distance from real interaction, real life.  How we needed to get back to direct experience rather than a credit system.  After he read it, he made comments about how this was indicative of society distancing itself from nature.  Sidney talked about a book she was reading called The History of Money and how women started entering into the currency exchange by selling their bodies and thereby getting income to begin their own businesses.  She said that what Frank wrote tied into the way all things are now, economics, relationships, society etc.  How it's all the same, this plastic currency being used to distance ourselves from life.  

Frank asked the improv actor is he lost himself yet, and the guy said by the end he did.  He said that he thought losing himself had something to do with rhythm, and Frank said slow rhythm.  The guy said fast or slow, it didn't matter.  Frank asked Susan to talk about Sidney.  She said that things had been great since her mother moved to Berkeley. How they were spending a lot more time together.  Sidney had a condition of randomness.  Frank calls it nonlinear.  Susan said that it was interesting to talk with her and anytime she has questions about what Sidney is talking about, how it ties in, Sidney can always explain.  It has expanded Susan's thinking.  Sidney talked about leaving Monarch Place and moving into an apartment closer to her daughter.  She said that when Erica left the retirement home it really became like a hotel and there was no point in staying.  

Frank then asked the guy who was an environment creator if he would create an environment with us and he said that we were creating it already.  At some point Kene-J arrived and Frank told his son to get to work, so Kene-J got up and started using one of the keyboards making fun beats playing some background music.  Frank asked Sidney and Susan if they would get Linda and I undressed and into our costumes of Hawaiian jewelry so that his neighbor Betty wouldn't give him shit.  They said yes.  Kene-J sat beside Frank and rapped a couple of songs while they undressed us.  They had fun taking off our clothes and we danced together.  Linda and I then put costumes on Sidney and Susan, adorning them with cloth and bangles until they looked like shrouded princesses.  You could tell they were having a lot of fun.  

Sometime within all that, we lost the improv actor and philosopher.  The environment creator was playing various percussive instruments he had brought. Then Kene-J went back to the keyboard and we all sat and talked more about random.  Frank likes random/nonlinear.  The performance was a total example of that.  Everything seemed like it was random, being pulled out of a hat or something.  Frank just kept at it asking people to go further, to play.  There was resistance, but Frank just kept asking, never giving up to the resistance.  Always ploughing on.  He asked the environment creator what he thought and he said that Frank was on the right track.  

Another guy came in, Joe.  He sat down and used one of the gestures bags as a pillow, so Frank asked what was under his butt.  He pulled the bag out and asked what it was.  Frank told him it was gestures and now he was to go around to each person pulling a gesture out of the bag and doing it with that person.  He chose Mikee first and pulled out rubbing each others thighs.  Then he went around to each of us, pulling out gestures like rubbing bellies, shoulders, butts, exploring backs, exploring bodies, shrugging shoulders etc.  The guy was game, he risked.  This opened everything up.  

It was an amazing evening of exploring and pushing through to get to real play.  Frank and Linda talked about gestures at past performances and how it is very random and always flows along in some vein either more or less explicit.  They talked about the performance at UC Irvine, how uptight the place was, and how everyone playing gestures played with Frank until the gesture came up to lie on one another and everyone piled on Frank.  They have done amazing things over the years.  Rich experiences.  Rich life.  Everyone soaked up the moment.  The environment creator talked about the value of just being with everyone in a real way, not a social way in which there is only one way to be, nice, which does not take into account how anybody really feels.  Here we were flowing with whatever, experiencing it as it happened, really feeling the discomfort of having it not match any expectations we had about it.  But he said once you get past those expectations, you can really just be here with everyone and enjoy whatever was happening.  It is so simple, yet so subversive. 

Sidney talked about how she thinks of things as good, better and best, and this was real life.  She spoke nonlinearly and played with words, rapping nonlinearly and saying that there was meaning behind all of it.  Frank looked at Kene-J and said is she the hippest or what.  Kene-J got it and smiled saying yes.  Susan talked about living with teenagers and taking on some of the things they lived by like loving music, aware of the awesomeness of everything, paying attention to all things sweet, and being chill.  She talked about her artwork using a large book of one syllable words, linking them together and having other artists take inspiration from it as well.  All of the talk centered on random or nonlinear, and the oneness of everything, the core root being the same in all.   

The performance was all of us playing together, Frank directing the play and everyone experiencing it, risking to do that.  Risking discomfort.  Risking having to let go of their expectations.  Being willing to jump into the unknown.  Talking about it was also a part of it, the experience wrapping in on itself, becoming itself.  The feeling of oneness was really experienced by all of us and Sidney said what was great about it was that we all knew we were experiencing this, it was that we all knew this that was so amazing. 

Slowly everyone got up and took that magical feeling with them out into the world.  Frank set up getting together someday with Sidney and Susan to talk.  Carl, the environment creator, asked if anyone needed a ride back to Berkeley.  Joe didn't want to leave.  We started to take the set down, pack up, and head back home.  On the ride back we talked about how amazing the evening was.  How Frank just kept plugging away until everyone opened up and freely played without limits.  It was like what you've been doing all along, all the performances are about this reality playing, but now the structure has whittled down to the raw elements.  Now we're doing it raw, and Linda likened it to stepping stones checking each one to see if we can stand on it, and we find one we can and we keep going.  Linda said that what Frank did tonight was a perfect model for how to do anything, how to live life.  She said we are the luckiest people.  It is an amazing life.    

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