Scylla and Charybdis

Eryn Rosenthal and Utam Moses by David Jordan Chlapecka

Eryn Rosenthal and Utam Moses by David Jordan Chlapecka

Yes, Scylla and Charybdis are those two sea monsters between which Odysseus had to navigate to get back home. Trials and tribulations. Between a rock and a hard place. 
Doorkeepers to an action-adventure packed journey; nods to Kafka, the gates we contemplate a very long time.

A journey; the beginning of an adventure. Three performers, four large plants, shadows of heroic diagonals, a mast of a statue by artist Bob Sestok, graffiti, wrought-iron gate, and other spatially-specific interventions.

Scylla and Charybdis
a chapter of The Doors Project
Sunday, June 10, 2012, 2.52pm*
First Street Green Art Park, 33 East 1st Street, NYC

Concept, direction and text: Eryn Rosenthal
Creation: Eryn Rosenthal, Rebecca Medina, and Utam Moses
Movement: Utam Moses and Eryn Rosenthal
Voice: Regina Bain
Sculpture: First Street Iron, by Bob Sestok
Music: Hot Math, by Andrew Bird
Production and graphic design: Silva Ajemian
Production intern: Breanna Gibson

* This performance was originally set to start at 3pm, April 22, but attracted the April wrath of Poseidon, god of torrential downpours on Earth Day (i.e. we got rained out). There were then several shadows that formed part of our “set,” derivations of which now occur about 8 minutes earlier in the space; thanks be to Helios, we were able to share them with an audience on Sunday, June 10, at 2.52pm.


More about Scylla and Charybdis

Scylla and Charybdis is chapter one of a multi-episodic “action-adventure” series; each episode experiments with different interactions of text and movement. In this first chapter, I was interested in exploring the “doorway moment” of a beginning, myth and variation, challenge and journey, as well as in priming the space for adventures to come. We started the piece by first encouraging a prolonged visual contemplation of the space from the outside as the dancers moved very slowly along the gates and an image-filled parable was read, accompanied by dream-like, incantatory music. There was no more sound in the rest of the piece except the incidental noises of the city which we incorporated into our movement, image, and gesture-based choreography.

Audience members commented that the images planted in the beginning parable at the gate connected, accumulated, morphed, and intermingled with elements of the sculpture and the space in the subsequent more movement-based parts of the piece. As Sarah Courteau, audience member and editor, noted: “The calling forth of Greek myths, journeys, and all the strong images at the beginning while we were looking in at the park had the effect of transforming the space once we were walking around in it. I saw the siren clinging to her rocks, Ulysses at the wheel or tied to the mast of his ship, a malevolent whirlpool that’s not so malevolent. The layering of conflicting versions of the same myth produced an unexpected poetic resonance in this raw, grafittied space.”

How the project came about
When the organizers of First Street Green Art Park in New York City learned about The Doors Project, they asked me to make a piece to literally open the doors of their first season. The space was quite desolate and depressing when I first arrived (this was before Bob Sestok’s sculpture landed there), so I gave my collaborators and myself the perhaps quixotic challenge of transforming this perception and activating the space—in this case, by playing with the existing vibrations in the space, and filling it with remnants of myth.


About The Doors Project

With The Doors Project, I’ve been taking performance investigations based on observations of transition—political, familial, economic, intimate—and locating them in doorways, thresholds, and other transitory spaces around the world. The series premiered this fall in Spain, and has taken several different forms so far: site-specific performances in doorways, archways, kiosks and stairwells throughout central Barcelona as part of Festival Lilliput; an animated short with visual artist Marta Azparren and Elliott Cooper; as well as a life-size doorframe on wheels—complete with floating door-handle—that my team and I pushed uphill to La Puerta del Sol, in honor of the 15-M protest movement.

© Eryn Rosenthal, 2012.  Please cite with artists’ names and link to this page.

Photos by David Jordan Chlapecka:

Photos by Rob Sanchez:

Photos by Karen Davidov:

© Eryn Rosenthal, 2012. Please cite with artists’ names and link to this page.

Scylla and Charybdis | 2012 | Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,