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

at Temescal Arts Center, Oakland, California
Saturday, February 21, 2009


Here is what people read on the fliers and ads for the performance:

REALITY PLAYINGS: experiments in experience/participation performance

Frank Moore, world-known shaman performance artist, will conduct improvised passions of musicians, actors, dancers, and audience members in a laboratory setting to create altered realities of fusion beyond taboos. Bring your passions and your senses of adventure and humor. Other than that, ADMISSION IS FREE! (But donations will be accepted.)

Keep this in mind when you read the below descriptions of the performance. People came because of what they read…but weren’t willing to step beyond the padded boxes of comfort….at least they thought they weren’t willing! A sizeable crowd came…sizeable for a beginning of this kind of series. Usually it takes several shows to build to where we got to last night. One of the factors of the advance nature of the series is that we did it at THE TEMESCAL ARTS CENTER at 511 48th Street, Oakland. The neighborhood has a hip, vibrant night life. People walking around, looking for fun even at midnight…which is extremely rare these days! The space itself is homey, funky…ideal for what we are doing. And it is cheap enough so that we can build over time a creative communal momentum that will expand! So last night was planting seeds with Tomek and Kene-J, etc.!

It was so fun to be coming into a new space, and setting up for the first time there!  Frank really liked the space, funky, not snooty!  Really cozy.  We all got right to work on setting up ... some people were arriving around 7:30, a half hour early ... wow!  There was the feeling that the word had really gotten out about the performance, and we were to hear later that it really had ... by internet, fliers, and then word of mouth ... neat!  Tomek was there, and then Kene-J, and as soon as they were set up, they started playing ... people were starting to come in ...  The music was amazing, from the very beginning, through the whole night ... we said later that at many points throughout the evening, it felt like the music was a perfectly orchestrated soundtrack for what was being said, or what was happening ... it created this evolving deepening tone beneath everything that seemed to match and carry it along ... like it was created intentionally for those moments!  Jen called it "shamanic."

 Then Frank got started, talking to each person, one by one, asking how people got "sucked in" to the performance ... using everything!  One guy came because of an interest in shamanism, and Frank followed that ... asking him more about his interest ... and this became one of the themes of the night which kept coming back because it illustrated what the piece was ... an exploring beyond limits, beyond safe "comfort zones" ... at one point, the same guy was inclined to undress Linda and Jen when Frank asked, but only if someone else from the audience did it with him, and Frank asked him would a shaman negotiate??  Then much later, in the context of talking about another woman's self-described "safe zone", Frank asked the same guy if shamans operated within safe zones, and he said a decisive "no"!  It was just amazing how Frank weaved a depth of experience and introduced so many new concepts the way he does, that you could feel people taking in deeply as he actively followed everyone.

 We were saying on our way home later that it did really feel like almost everyone came with a sense of what this is, what Frank is doing ... ... but with their own pictures of what that meant, how it would look ... and Frank immediately pushed beyond those pictures!  It was neat how the one dressed-up couple had read and re-read the description of the performance, and finally decided they had to come!  And to hear how people talked about their experience afterward, and all the way through too ... how the one guy who came because of his interest in shamanism had spent the performance flipping between a feeling of participation, and being critical of what was going on ...  Frank asked him which was more fun?  He said it was the participation!  It was neat how Linda said after the performance that the way Frank elicits everyone's responses to the performance seems to be an important part of making their experience a reality, solid, a really amazing part of the performance.  It was really neat the discussions that came out at the end of the performance, the things people said ...  Corey said later that from the camera view, you couldn't help seeing it in the context of this being set down as a historical record, and in that context, it felt really profound what Frank is doing, and how these are historical documents of our time, how we are as people with each other ... and of course an amazing document of the evolution of Frank's performance ... especially in the context of all of the stories of past experiences and performances that came out in the course of the performance. ..  Jen told us later how you had been talking about that aspect of things ... that it was neat that there was so much history to draw from to talk about what was happening right there now with everyone ... giving all of this an historical context, that everyone was part of something much longer and larger ... and taking away the "specialness" of people's personal responses, putting everything in a much deeper context.  It really felt like that feeling was absorbed into everyone there, especially those who stayed to the end ...

We were also talking later about how only three people raised their hands to "participate" in the second half of the performance, when Frank asked.  But then what he had them do was to take an instrument and play music with Kene-J and Tomek!!  It seemed like maybe it was more about risking, about jumping into the unknown, then it was about doing particular acts ...  We imagined that those folks who did not want to participate had some idea or image of what participation would mean ...  And of course a lot more people somehow ended up with instruments ... it was a very soft moment when the shaman guy, who had not raised his hand, came over and joined the others in their little circle, playing music ...   It felt a lot like "gestures" in a way ... in that the element of risking into the unknown and being vulnerable was the foundation of it all ... being willing to do/be that, not so much being willing to do one specific action vs. another ...
It was really neat that Jake and his girlfriend came, and the woman from BNG who came with her boyfriend after years of Corey talking to her about Frank ...  The dance under the slides and the music jamming with it was beautiful, and felt like it left everyone in a trance ... that familiar feeling at the end of performances ... the softness on everyone's faces ... a feeling of having gone somewhere together, a feeling of time having extended and melted, and things having been transformed nonlinearly ...  It was only the late hour that pulled the plug, since the folks who stayed were so melted into the mats, and into the talking about the performance, hearing each other's experiences, including Kene-J, Tomek, and Jen talking about her meeting Frank, which gave so much background and depth to what had just happened ...
 It felt really profound what the one guy said (he was maybe the first to arrive, and had stayed until the end) how for him it was the simply being with other people, spending three hours together doing this that was very meaningful.  Frank added, and not in a social, casual or romantic context. 
Back here, we were talking about the performance, and Jen was telling us what you guys had talked about on the way home ... how Frank really didn't think anyone was going to open up ... all the way through, since there were so many "comfort zones" ... and then people didn't want to leave at the end!  There was so much to say about the performance ... we continue to talk about it today ... how amazing the dance was, how small and close it was, melted ... how visually neat the slides were in the almost total darkness on the bodies and the wall around Frank's chair ... image blending into body ... no clear dividing lines ...

We got into the space and it was really great!  Just felt like the perfect size with everything we needed.  Alexi and I put up the murals while Corey and Mikee worked out the sound system and Linda put the swag out and mats for people to sit on.  Here we were again.  It's sinking deeply into me that even though this is an amazing life it is not unbelievable.  Everything happens out of being together and following.  It is life unfolding.  It is doing what is necessary and needed.  I feel very lucky to have found you, and now that I'm here I sometimes find myself looking at everything as if I can't believe I'm here and am a part of all this, so rich a life.  But I'm in it, right here with you, in you all the time, and so it's not something to look at from any distance.  It fills me up so completely to be here.  It's a waste to not give full attention to that, to not cherish that and dig in fully.

As we were setting up people started arriving.  They were welcome to come in and sit and be a part of the setting up.  Tomek and Kene-J arrived and got set up on their instruments.  They started playing and the music sounded great right away.  I sat down and Linda took her place beside Frank and we got started.  There were a few people and more came in as Frank talked to everyone asking them how they got sucked in.  It's great to pull people in like that right away and get them talking about the performance that is happening right now, because really even putting up the fliers and having people respond to them is part of the performance.  Many people said they saw the flier on-line.  There was a student studying shamanism there and Frank asked him some questions about that.  Jake was also there who had made Frank's new leather headband.  Frank started to feel out people's boundaries.  This wasn't a goal, it just happened through talking, because although everyone said they came because it was something new, something outside the box and challenging and pushing beyond, they also were saying that they didn't want to leave their comfort zones.  One woman was asked if she would undress Linda and I while another audience member read Frank's poetry.  She wouldn't do that.  Later she said that she would rather be more acquainted with the person whom she was undressing, so Frank asked if she would undress the guy she was with.  The guy didn't want to do that.  The guy studying shamanism was asked if he would undress Linda and I and he said he would only do it if someone else participated.  Frank asked if a shaman would negotiate.  The guy said no and then agreed to do it when Frank said that we are all participating, even the people just watching.  The guy reading the poems was really great.  Linda and I stood there and got undressed by the shamanism student.  At first it seemed like he wasn't going to go all the way and take off our pants, but Linda told him he could and he did.  He also put on our costume jewellery.  Linda and I sat down for the remainder of the poem and felt flecks of water on our backs.  It was raining outside and some was coming through the ceiling fan.  When the poem was read, Frank asked a couple if they would undress him while his son, Kene-J, sang.  They agreed and so Linda helped them and we lifted up Frank so they could pull his pants off.  There were more people there and Frank was asking them how they got sucked in.  Some of them had heard about the performances for years but never came until now.  Others heard about the performance tonight a few times and took that as a sign they should come.  Even though they all said they came to experience this, it felt like everyone had their boundaries that they weren't willing to cross.  

Frank asked who wanted to participate.  A few people put up their hands.  He said that there were toy instruments up front for them to play while we went to the bathroom.  Later Corey said that all Frank was asking was who was willing to risk.  Even though many people didn't risk because they had pictures of what participating would be, the people who did just played some instruments and it was really fun.  While we were in the bathroom they played on with Tomek and Kene-J, building a tribal beat.  We came out and got Frank set up for the dance.  He vocalized with the slides on him for a few minutes and then Linda and I crawled up on either side of him and started vocalizing as well while we worked our way up rubbing together.  Everything melted together.  The music, the lighting, our bodies, everyone there.  We rubbed in turned on trance.  No mind, just pure enjoyment.  Then we went out and got everyone left in the audience to come up to Frank.  They were pulled in, continuously pulled in throughout and they came, they followed.  

Afterwards we talked and that's when it really felt as though people opened up.  Frank and Linda talked about how the people who will only watch, who will only participate by watching, have the most difficult time and go through the most changes.  Drawing on years of experience, they talked about how they never know why people leave or how the performance affects them.  You could feel the value of that.  One woman said that she was given an instrument to play but we didn't know who did that, it just happened out of what was going on and it pulled people in further.  The talk was really great.  You could feel people softening.  Frank had me talk about how I met him and I told that story.  Each time it reveals how I was ready to follow this, how all paths lead me to this and I was compelled to follow.  Really it wasn't a choice not to follow.  To do that would be a choice not to truly live.  

Everyone was told that they should come again as we have another date booked for March, but some of the people who stayed were from out of town.  But you never know what that could lead to.  I was from out of town too.  There was the gentle peace that comes after a performance and people were saying goodbye and thanking us.  To see the amazement and gratitude on people's faces is amazing because this is our life, this is how we live everyday together.  How can it be so incredible!  But it is and so it is to be lived with the deepest respect.  


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