The Things We Keep by The Arc Theatre in its world premiere is running to the Noyes Theatre in Evanston throughout the month of February.
“A locally famous collage artist sifts through the contents of her attic at the end of her life, revealing a family history rife with hidden turmoil. As her family returns home to settle her estate, old wounds are unearthed that were thought to be packed away. When emotions are archived like pieces of paper, what beauty could be salvaged from the remnants?”
Like a collage, the play juxtaposes different time periods together requiring the actors to explore their characters at different ages.This was spectacularly done. The pieces of the characters’ stories were slowly uncovered from jumping to the past. The performance was haunting and inventive.
It got me thinking, what about collage interacts with time the way performing arts do?
In response, I embarked on my own collage work. I can’t tell you how many teenage collages of purses and boys and friends I created in my youth. So in a way, it was a another mark of time passing for me to “grown-up” collage.
One of my close friends from college came to visit last weekend and we went antiquing in Edgewater up and down Sheridan Rd. There are some magnificent shops and this was on one of the warm and sunny February days. It was great to take a step back in time amidst antiques with an old friend by my side. Surrounded by so many objects that used to make up peoples lives. Couches where they watched endless episodes of Gilligan’s Island, fur coats worn only to the opera, and most striking to me, tons of old books, magazines and pictures.
Buckets full of pictures. It was crazy! Talk about #tbt. Nameless photo print from undistinguished times waiting to be given new life.
I went for in for the magazines and chose two magazines exactly fifty years apart. National Geographic August 1963 and Opera News August 2013 as my collage specimens. The NatGeo had a story about Jane Goddall back when her work with chimpanzees was just getting reported and the Opera News was called the Education Issue, which appealed to me too. I chose this pairing especially because 2013 had particular resonance for me as it was when I first graduated college and entered into probably the weirdest, longest summer of my life. A transition into semi-adulthood.
I wanted to give focus to the theme of time and aging in art, music in particular. I kept the format simple and geometric.
Included are: A photo of 78 year old actress playing tinkerbell at disneyland justaposed with a girl in the spotlight, and a giant stop watch with a tiny person in front of it. All layered on top of sheet music of “Lush Life” by Billy Strayhorn.
This collage brought some questions to mind that I don’t quite have the answers to.
How does music as an art interact with time? How do we engage with our physical reality as time passes? Does art bar us from participating as we age?
Music is embedded in time. It needs time to exist. But more than that, I really think that music can bring you back to a specific memory. Like how hearing a certain song might remind you of when it played during your first kiss. In some ways, music can make us a kid again or bring us back to a time in ways other art forms might not do so directly.
Now to bring these time periods off the page, have a listen to August 1963:
Compare with August 2013:
And a bonus 2013:
Until next time, happy time travelling!