Gwyneth Donlon

Shhh, listen to this...

Day 5 of Mediummatic at Sleep Inn - 5 days of alternative communication

The fifth and final night of Mediummatic at Sleep Inn saw three performances that all used sound to communicate something special to the audience.

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Unknown nuns playing cellos. -

Mediummatic’s Sunday night program Resonation began with a performance by Janneke Raaphorst and Kyle Tryhorn. Dressed in black and white tuxedos with a twist, the duo entered the space and began miming the violin and cello parts of Kodaly’s Opus 7, Maestoso E Largamente Ma Non Troppo Lento (also the name of the performance).

Whilst Tryhorn remained seated with his ‘cello’, as the music became more dramatic Raaphorst rose to continue her passionate violin playing. Eventually the ‘violin’ itself was cast aside and she became the physical embodiment of the music - swaying and moving, her body becoming the instrument.

Creator of the work, Raaphorst, later remarked, ‘that was one performance out of one hundred possibilities.’ According to Raaphorst, anyone can participate in this kind of spontaneous musical theatre. ‘You just need to have the ingredients: two people who can’t play any instruments and the recording of a piece of music; then follow this instruction: pretend as though you are producing the music!’

And who hasn’t found themselves singing into a hairbrush or breaking into a spot of contemporary dance when listening to a favorite tune in the privacy of your bedroom? I know I have and from the looks on the faces of those in the audience, I think I’m not alone.

The second part of the program involved a more subdued experience with a Tibetan bowl meditation session run by Frank Mannens. Mannens started experimenting with the sounds produced by ‘playing’ Tibetan bowls around five years ago and found the soundscapes they created produced a unique atmosphere conducive to meditation and relaxation.

‘I’ve been told some bowls produce sounds which resonate with particular chakras offering therapeutic effects but aside from that, in my experience, if you open yourself up to the sound, it cannot help but touch you. I can’t tell you how, but it will happen,’ said Mannens.

Through hitting the inside and outside of different sized bowls and running a stick around the edges, the sound Mannen makes has an almost hypnotic effect. The chime of each bowl rings out and bleeds into each other. Each new tone echoes through the room and harmonizes seamlessly with the existing notes. The gentle ringing permeates the entire space, the ears and the bodies of people lying with eyes closed in meditation. Afterwards, audience members admitted to a feeling of deep relaxation and also to a disorientation of their sense of time and place.

Under a peach chiffon tent, in the flickering candle light, Marie Nuit gave the last performance of the night - Chansons pour dormir – which translates as ‘songs to sleep’. Sending the guests of Sleep Inn to bed with a lovely lullaby was a fitting way to end the final night of Mediummatic and a memorable one at that.

In a white, high necked dress with bare feet, Marie Nuit began playing her cello – a real one this time. At first she plucked the strings lightly before taking her bow in hand. Short sharp notes followed and then more forceful playing as she scaled up and down creating a dark moody atmosphere one moment and the next, fractured discords which left one feeling tense. At different times Marie Nuit would whisper or sing as she played which brought to mind images of Ophelia muttering to herself in madness.

The ghost-like figure of a woman in white playing music to herself made for a poignant performance and kept the audience transfixed. As I could not hear the words Marie Nuit spoke I cannot tell you what the lullaby was about or how it ended, but afterwards, as people drifted off home or to bed it felt as though Morpheus, God of Dreams, would be sure to visit us soon.

After five days of Mediummatic workshops, lectures, games and performances, everyone was feeling pretty tired by the end of the night. Luckily there was still time for one more good sleep in at Sleep Inn.