YOU WERE TOO MUCH. TOO FUNNY. NOT JUST PLAIN FUNNY BUT, YOU KNOW: SILLY FUNNY, WITTY FUNNY, BITING FUNNY, CUTTING FUNNY, FEROCIOUS FUNNY, DESPONDENT FUNNY, FRIGHTENING FUNNY.
AND PHYSICAL TOO. YES TOO PHYSICAL BY HALF. TOO BODY, BODY. TOO BODILY BODY TO BE THEATRE AND TOO ENTERTAINING TO BE SERIOUS.
Wendy Houstoun, Letter to Nigel Charnock
With these words Wendy Houstoun said goodbye to her friend and colleague Nigel Charnock, a few days after his death, in August 2012. Nigel was one of the founders of DV8 – Physical Theatre in the eighties; then, he continued alone as a performer and choreographer, givind life to a series of incredible solos. For those who knew him, he was, just like in Wendy’s words, “too much”.
With his performances, hyperkinetic explosions in which singing, dancing, shouting, staging, fiction and touchable reality were sewn around emptiness, he widened the genre of “contemporary dance” and seemed to embody the possibility of art defined “failed entertainement” by David Foster Wallace. Everything was energy, desire, will.̀ Yet, as he desperately repeats in his solo One Dixon Road, “there’s nothing else, it’s nothing, nothing”.
I met and worked with Nigel Charnock in 2010. This meeting marked deeply my way of thinking about performing. After him, the possibility of dancing is to me the horizon within which anything could happen on stage.
BEST REGARDS is a letter I’m writing, 8 years too late, to someone who will never answer. This is a way to say: “Dear N, I wanted to be too much too”. It is an invitation to partecipate in a lay and pop tribute: we sing together about a nostalgia that affects us all, us who did not arrive in time to say what we wanted. In the shade of time gone, and under the light that Nigel keeps on projecting on the stage for the ones who are dancing today, let’s resonate the mantra, explain in front of our eyes a blank paper and inquire: how shall we begin this impossible letter?