Improv Night: Gravity by Mark Sheeky

Improv Night: Gravity
Mash Guru, Macclesfield
15 January 2019

About this event
One of a series of experimental art performance nights at music venue Mash Guru, curated and organised by Sabine Kussmaul and I. The theme of the evening was Gravity. The night began with a streamed, psychedelic music video by John Hyatt, Dave Moss and Simon Woolham comparing gravity and levity. Bryan Riley read a poem, and William Read sang Nature's Law by Embrace. Deborah Edgeley and I then performed a small piece called the 'Gravitic Communications Array'. We wore large cardboard boxes over our upper bodies, with 'Gravitic Communications Array' written on the side, explaining that each represented the sun and a distant planet. These were connected to opposite ends of the room by a string as such that sound would travel along the string from one box to another. I, representing the sun, played simple music of gravitic information on a tiny glockenspiel, communicating this to Deborah in the distant box.

The next act was a Skype conversation with composer Anna Appleby, discussion how she might approach a commission to create work on the theme of gravity. Jane Harland then read a poem. After a short break, Sabine Kussmaul interviewed trapeze artist Sarah Raeburn about her techniques and methods of working, projecting some stills, and a video of her gravity-defying performances. John Lindley then read 'Born to be Airborne', a poem about aircraft pilots. We then watched a video about the effects of zero-gravity on the human body, and heard three poems from Michael Chisholm.

After this I and Deborah Edgeley performed interactive piece, 'Principia Mathematica'. I wore a curly wig and white shirt, an impersonation of Sir Isaac Newton, and created a video that included the first movement of Bach's Concerto for 4 Harpsichords in A minor. I set key parts of the music to display the front page of Newton's Philosophić Naturalis Principia Mathematica, with a 4 second lead-in image of an apple. Deborah Edgeley dangled a mock-apple over my head and I danced to the music, but at the key moments in the music I banged my head on the apple, and the audience exclaimed 'Principia Mathematica!' in unison. The piece lasted five minutes.

The next piece was a greyscale video by Simon Ross of playing basketball, seen from a position on the ground, below the basket. This was slowed down and the deep, booming sound added a great sense of power to actions. The evening ended with a reading by Sabine Kussmaul of a section of text from Wild by Jay Griffiths.