The piece, “I am Laura,” presents a character traveling through a cubist reality that evokes the universal sensation of the evolution of layers of identity.
Because the performance technology can present multiple projections of Laura and other imagery very realistically, it allows the actor to interact meaningfully with herself and with many strata of her consciousness from several angles simultaneously. In this way, the piece investigates the mysterious process behind how personality is formed (and ultimately destroyed) though seemingly random recollections. Accumulated memories are integral to the development of identity. New experiences influence older ones, and influence their relative position in the accumulated layers of memory. When we recall a specific memory or event, all other memories - no matter when they are from - are part of that recollection.
As audience members move through the performance environment, time contracts on itself. Fleeting moments and phrases build on each other - echoes of echoes - each feeding off the last. These flashes shed slivers of light on Laura’s larger life giving the audience ideas and suspicions about her motivations and memory. Viewers are encouraged to interpret these kaleidoscopic moments in different ways as they walk through the space. This is the omniscient Laura’s world. It is the inside of her collected consciousness, and each experience vies to be heard. Laura's Mother, Father, Brother, Lover, etc – are manifestations of her self and she interacts with them as herself, even creating a Laura of her own to manipulate and put through her paces. Laura also takes various abstract forms as she investigates her existence. She IS her name on a piece of paper – she is a drawing – she is a projection – she IS what she loves. A stuffed bear – a boy – A rough touch – a song – A blurred image of purple light. She IS what she fears – a groping hand – a hoard of ants – the darkness - the vertigo of insignificance. The thoughts she tries to obscure seem to have consciousness of their own. Everything is fair game, nothing can be suppressed. The dramatic action tracks how the constant folding of memory and identity is the essence of a larger consciousness.
Though Laura’s experiences, the piece becomes an exploration of how, from a palimpsest of bewildering imagery and shredded experiences, the paradox of self-awareness is violently born only to slip softly and sadly away.
© 2020 Roland Gebhardt