99 Times draws from the energies of the Occupy Movement that began in September 2011. In her performance Emily Lacy creates a protest out of a single voice, filling the theater with songful cries, chanting, and folk-influenced music. She skillfully embodies every character of the movement, while also offering a more mythical personality.
The performance took place in the Long Center Theater. The confines of the theater posed an interesting juxtaposition to the spaces of the Occupy Protests. Occupy takes place out in the open, penetrating public space. Lacy’s performance, however, transpired in a more intimate setting that created a more reflective place. She did not regurgitate a protest but offered something quite different. The audience circled the center of the room that was occupied with a red tent, reminiscent of the tents that set the territory of the Occupy Protests. Out of the nucleus of the tent mournful cries broke the silence. The cries were layered and grew into chants that radiated into the theater.
Emily Lacy opening the red tent, a focal point of the performance.
Once the sound had swelled a figure broke form the tent, draped in monk-like cloth and veiled in white. The calls were multiplied and seeped into the audience as the figure entered into the viewing space. She sang, “never gonna be rich, always gonna be poor” on repeat. The veil and drapery were gradually removed, as the chanting grew more assertive and urgent.
As Lacy opened the tent repetitive chanting filled the space.
Just as the audience was accustomed to the rhythm of the chants, Lacy threw them into abrupt cuts of silence. In a brake of rhythm, actual recordings of Occupy Protestors chanted, “the whole World is watching, the whole World is watching”. Every time the chants would resume they would continue with more momentum and passion than before. Once the cries had reached climax the figure returned to the security of the tent and carried on with folk-like protest songs on guitar, creating a sense of unity.
Lacy performing in tent.
The performance ended just as it began. The figure and cries returned to the tent that they had broke from, leaving the audience in silence. What did this say for the Occupy Movement? One thing that was left in the theater, in the final moments of silence, was a resonating energy and heightened sense of awareness. Lacy created a room filled with the emotions that drive political protests such as the Occupy Movement. At times the performance had one foot in reality. At times it was a spiritual experience where the audience could forget the ties to the Occupy Movement and be swept away in the shamanistic rhythms.
The audience is left in resonating silence.
Women & Their Work is a NPN Partner of the National Performance Network (NPN). Emily Lacy’s Fusebox performance was possible in part by support form the NPN Performance Residency Program. Major contributors include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information: www.npnweb.org.