Out There Out Here by John Crutchfield

Out There Out Here is a one-act length performance piece combining spoken verse and choreography, which I created in collaboration with performance artist/dancer Julie Gillum and director Ron Bashford in the spring of 2008. The piece is essentially a dramatic meditation on the nature of language and on the ways it mediates--and troubles--the relationship of human beings to the natural world.

The piece came about when I approached Julie about the idea of creating something together using poetry and movement. I had been admiring her work in the Asheville performing arts scene for a number of years, and was eager to see what would happen if we combined her Butoh-influenced style with my penchant for physical comedy and for poetry-in-performance. At the time, we were both teaching part-time at Warren Wilson College, and I took a couple of Julie's dance classes that semester to get my chops up. To our great mutual delight, director Ron Bashford was also at Warren Wilson that semester, and he threw his inexhaustible enthusiasm for creating new work into the project. As I recall, the first day in the studio, Ron watched as Julie and I improvised non-stop for several hours using four bamboo poles she had brought with her. By the end of it, we were both soaked in sweat; but already Ron was helping us shape the piece, offering suggestions and noting structures and relationships that were emerging. At some point, we sat down together and started working on the ten or so pages of poems I'd contributed, called And Who, Being. We eventually decided we needed only one poem from the collection for the entire piece:

AMONG THE ROOFTOPS:
    the harsh cries of swallows
swooping & returning
    slashing their improvisations
        into the dusk
above the plashing fountain
    where you sit by yourself because
you just couldn’t
    stand a moment more in-
side with the
light failing out there
    out here so utterly
remote & unprotected