On Seeing And Experiencing – That Which Lies Beneath

by Evangel King, June 2004


This is my experience of presence at That Which Lies Beneath.


Arriving, arriving, all of us are arriving to be present at That Which Lies Beneath. We flow in and linger under the arched awning entryway. Sometimes brushing past and other moments standing close in greetings to each other. Noh Space open doors welcome us in. Many of us have a longtime practice of seeing live art. Some are just developing theirs. It will be the first time for a few. This very moment we are together in practicing presence. The fruit of our awareness is the shared presence taking us beyond ourselves.


The theater doors open up. With awkward grace, a good dose of dexterity laced with clear intention we re-gather in the bright red of the old movie house chairs. Sitting on risers we transform into a chorus. We are here now practicing presence by our willingness to see live art and allow being seen practicing together. We are tuning up.


Into our attuned gaze come, Audrey Cooper, Deborah Miller, and Megan Nicely. Floating in, floating in they cleverly inhabit the warm and jewel like space. With their vital presence they float on and off three stools in the caress of light and shadow given by Allen Willner. We, the chorus, attune to floating serenely in our darkened chairs. Salvatore Prestianni's music lifts and sustains dancers and chorus alike. Breathing in all together now, we breathe out nourishment from Floating Trio by Megan Nicely.


An enormous shift occurs in the dark as Salvatore Prestianni struggles through the blackness of the curtains, carrying a lantern and a large book. Arriving at the very border where we are gathered, he is illuminated for us. Ahhh! He has come to read from his Memoir of Mountain View Cemetery. He invites us to listen each moment. His slips emerge with good cheer. He relishes reading to us. Without a doubt we are listening and our listening/seeing/being presence is nourished. Our chorus metaphorically rises up supported by our exchange with Prestianni.


In the calm Angela Bausch walks without any secrets towards us. Reaching the center, she pauses. Her gaze is open and inclusive. Every cell at once invites being seen and seeing us without any judgment suggested in her gaze. Directed by her generosity we in turn practice seeing and being seen with like-minded intent. We, the chorus are now immersed in the practice of full harmony. From this place of our connection she serenely plunges into her Text and Songs From Fowl Belly. She shares her stories and the compelling songs created from them. She leads us into the mystery of passing stories on at the cellular level in one generation to the next. In the end she carries us into singing with her Bed of Flowers. At this moment our minds and hearts are one.


In conclusion I offer my thanks to artists and viewers alike who practice diligently the art of presence. This is the true heartbeat and spirit of live art.