Posted by Scott McEachern
A line of reasoning exists in narrative theory circles stating that at most what we can hope for in the stories we tell each other is a dynamism of desire. One way to extend this idea to the TBA stage shows is to say, in a kind of nod to postmodernism generally and deconstruction specifically, that we look for desire in any kind of text, whatever form the text takes. In “The Itching of the Wings” desire is written all over the piece, from the stated purpose of exploring human’s desire to take flight, to the people interviewed, to the performers, who move about the stage with a kind of shuffling grace you will see in any young boy in a field, crouched over a toy rocket.
All theory aside, the piece is a beautiful, sweet, earnest engagement with perhaps a fundamental and archetypal human desire and the performers become stand-ins for our own wish to take flight. The thing that makes this sweet and earnest is the perhaps overt context of the piece, the inability to fly on our own steam and humankind’s attempts to overcome a physical limitation. Various icons of flight-assistance technology and culture are playfully alluded to in the piece: Virtual reality, Superman, Babar, Icarus, Plato’s Phaedrus.
In Matthew Barney’s film The Cremaster Cycle, Dave Lombardo from Slayer appears out of the dark screen—first glints of cymbals and sticks, then his drums, then the movement of a body—drumming, anchoring a muted speed metal piece. The sound and the image are muted and the drumming goes on for a while and then the camera moves on to another image. I was reminded of that “scene” during Itching when the Worms ambled onstage and into the glass room and began playing. I think that it was the enclosed space, the feeling of enclosure that made me think of Cycle: both performances had a kind of claustrophobic feeling. The Worms played loud and forceful, trying to send their sound out of that glass room and into flight.