The Cabaret at the End of the World

Embedded Criticism by Oluwaseun Olayiwola

Embedded Criticism 

We were joined for some of our R&D by Oluwaseun Olayiwola as an embedded critic. Oluwaseun is a choreographer and poet based in London, and you can find out more information about him on his website. We were really excited by his writing style, and are delighted to share his response to the work, which you can listen to or read below: 

Fifteen Improvisations at the End of the World
00:00 / 08:26

Fifteen Improvisations at the End of the World 

​1. ​​

Covid dances everything into ruin, everything!

is what I would have said

before it became everything

 

Maybe it did nothing at all

or everything at once, or

something in between

 

the first physical script reads:

different than ever before, the last

stand, the final bow, which followed

 

not by encore but by a dark dreadful silence 

but what happens when the dreadful silence 

comes earlier than expected 

 

like a baby––we are and are not

thinking, worried about, concerned

 

with the re-production of humans

here inside this “super wicked

problem.” Here –– see the witching

 

and the bewitched cast, they are 

the happening and the happened to––

and, when a scare rises from the NHS

 

app like potential energy, they (a room

of mostly theys) are the never-happened––

So what did I see? What did I not see?

2. 

Drag

verb. 

To pull someone or something along forcefully, roughly, or with difficulty. 

 

Of time: pass slowly and tediously.

3.

Drag

noun.

The act of dressing up or presenting yourself different than your everyday gender

usually

for expression or performance—

4.

To watch rehearsals of drag performers 

is to be trapped in a three-tiered cake of suspension:

Even with everyone in the room, half the cast shows up.

 

How will you be tomorrow?

As if the question was asked straight into the earth—

5.

Because family is important. After all,

who is the future for if not the children?

6.

A show that never happened is a perfect way to discuss climate. 

It got stuck in the never-ending process. 

In other words the process didn’t stop. We just stopped showing up. 

7.

Picture this: a performer sobs the amazon

veiled in a black mesh, a bear chest

swirling, planetary connivance, into

 

an even bigger Amazon box—big

and no surprise as he/she/they/ it

wish a zebra camisole 

 

into this party-for-one. Cucaracha there. 

Rainbow of blue spills from an even bigger box,

a stole, a fist of roses, a pink tutu

 

lit by the fairy-light necklace

screaming the electricity bill into shadow

on the wall. Red wig of who-could-i-be?

 

The answer is everyone thinks no one.

8.

Let’s begin this evening in sombre consideration

of all that we’ve lost 

and all that has been destroyed.

Take it away my friend.

Take

it

away. 

9.

Bike-riding-Quorn-nugget-eating-king vanishes—

So does their veganism because context—

Context is the whole

problem. I can't hear you through the screen. 

Reduce:

I can't hear you.

Re-use:

I can't hear

you.

Recycle:

I don't know how to save the environment. 

Reduce:

How

Reuse:

Who

Recycle: 

How do we make ourselves feel better?

through song? 

...

I can’t hear you through the screen.

 

It’s the opera of despair binding us into this no-space

between my body and the iPad which is also my body.

10.

Color of days-old smoke, of blue.

But inside is very different.

 

Small variegated gestures

as if we could sing ourselves 

out of science. 

 

It takes a year for something to fail.

So the song becomes a yell:

WAKE ME UP INSIDE!
 

Who is me?

Things that are dying surely cannot be sleeping.

11.

It would seem on one end is Greta Thunberg and on the other Trump. 

Yet even here on this cold spectrum is still a binary. 

But tell me, do you know what their bodies look, sound like?

 

Let’s say the climate problem is a problem of the body.

Let’s say the sun is the cause of all fire and it is.

Who sets up camp on the edges and who burns?

12.

I’ll sing you a song for the dying mother earth. 

It’s a duet:

People are suffering. People are dying.

Entire ecosystems are collapsing.

We are at the beginning of mass extinction.

Then on itself the tree falls and doesn’t make a sound.

Then the water level rises and doesn’t make a sound. 

I climb into bed.

People are suffering. People are dying.

Entire ecosystems are collapsing.

We are at the beginning of mass extinction.

Then the punk-rock eclipses the room.

Darkness, is that what we came from or are going towards?

Where there is money there is not darkness.

People are suffering. People are dying.

Entire ecosystems are collapsing.

We are at the beginning of mass extinction.

What a drag. 

I climb into bed. 

None of the other bodies here make a sound.

People are suffering. People are dying.

Entire ecosystems are collapsing.

We are at the beginning of mass extinction.

People are suffering. People are dying.

Entire ecosystems are collapsing.

We are at the beginning of mass extinction.

12.

We are at a unique nexus, us.

We are the first generation to be haunting

            and haunted before we die. 

Ghosts is what we are becoming endlessly. 

But if a ghost still has a bone to pick on earth

what will we haunt?

 

You see, we are timeless. 

And I do not mean without time.

13.

Cardboard wings danger the back from flying. 

Spices as makeup. 

We must use whatever we can, our voice, our sex. 

14.

It became increasingly clear the end was coming.

This was not the scary part.

It was How, how, how? that we couldn’t be patient for.

 

In this case a contact trace closed the show. 

 

Was it queer that we didn’t perform?

Was it queer that all the resources we would have used

we saved

 

until tomorrow, until the next show, until the time

 

the weather blew — a wind, a virus, scent of you

2 meters from me — this way.

15.

Me: How do you write about a show you never saw?

 

Also me: The same way you write about a problem 

that doesn’t affect you.

 

You write about it now that it’s a privilege to say now—

Now.

Now.

 ​

But how many more nows are there?

 

and who is counting them

 

trapped in a bottle like sand gone glassy