Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ventriloquism and Art

NOTE: This was written in the afternoon of my opening night. At the time I did not know that one phone call would change my night and all others from then on. I didn't even know that my Dad had been taken to the hospital. I wasn't sure I would leave it up and publish it, but in some way it is an attempt to get back some normalcy from the last few days. My Mom would always read my blog to my Dad, this is one he will be able to comprehend on a different level.

As I write this we are several hours away from my opening night at DCT. At that time I will pose a question to the audience, "What is ventriloquism, and why does it even exist?" Like all art it is up to the audience, the observer, to answer it and up to me, the artist, to pose it. Ultimately there is no other obligation between us. I love the question because the answer is as varied as the number of people who comprehend it. The audience will come to their own conclusions and take from it what they personally connect with. If the observer is looking for the answer outside of his own opinion, they will not find it. It is the very thing that makes art valuable, this internal analyzation that can't really be shared. And there is no wrong answer. It is only as you interpret it. The wrong answer is not to have an interpretation.
Of the two adverbs "what" is easier to quantify than "why?" There might be an objective consensus after seeing a demonstration of something on what it is, but the why is totally subjective. What happens when you put a match to gasoline is an easy explanation, why it explodes when water does not is difficult to explain. When asked "what is it that you do?", the best answer is to respond by doing it. There is no demonstrable answer to "Why do you do it?" It IS what I do and that is why I do it. More of a riddle than an actual answer.
In High School my friend Larry used to entertain me with his insightful silliness. He once posed the question, "Why is a duck?" the answer, "because the much you go the more." It was indeed the perfect answer to any question that begins with why.
I demonstrate that I am a ventriloquist in my show. I have tried for years to come up with why I am a ventriloquist. For convenience sake I have invented reasons to use in interviews when asked. I doubt any of them are true because I do not know the answer. All I know is: I do it because I get a thrill from doing it. To watch an audience even for a second believe that there are two of us on stage and not one, is better than drugs to me. That is when the observer becomes the observed and it is my turn to interpret and analyze what they are doing. A performing artist's loop of performer being audience as the audience performs back. In that way art unites us in a common un repeatable experience. There is a bond which only happens because we are both in the same moment, inseparable yet separate with the whole greater than the sum of the parts. It is theatre, it is art, it is valuable and it is nourishment for the human spirit; not taking more than it gives nor giving more than it gets. How can this not be as important to the survival of our human spirit as water is to the survival of our bodies? If this shared bond through art is allowed to die from lack of participation, humans will become a spiritless hive of worker bees with no sense of self or individualism. What I am is a ventriloquist. Why I am a ventriloquist? Because the much you go the more.
As you were,


Bob Conrad said...

I know about what you speak, there is no explanation, you have to be there to experience it. And I think all performers live for the moment.

Roomie said...

We appreciate more than you can know your sharing the stories about your Dad these last few days...I know he is loving every performance....we love you...
Carry on,