I recently got an opportunity to attend a choreographed concert called ‘Lullaby, Stranger’. In their own words:
LULLABY STRANGER is a choral performance, meant to be heard lying down. Moving between shared and private spaces, this choreographed concert speaks of our most intimate moments. Songs of love and fulfillment, of absence, loss and longing, of nightmares and prayer and death, weave a journey that stirs tension as well as tenderness. Through the evening, sounds and bodies appear and disappear in a symphony of small encounters.
K invited me to accompany her and I will be forever grateful to her for this experience. We left around 7:30 for the 9 o’clock show. After a short walk to the metro, a very short metro ride, a cancelled train and a cab driver who refused to turn on the meter, we finally reached the venue. K was prepared as always and took out the small joint. I asked a guy for a lighter and we lit it up.
The show was delayed by 20 minutes but then it finally started. Our phones were confiscated and we were given a bag to keep our shoes in. We entered the ‘Black Box’ – a dark room with about forty mattresses arranged in squares such that the head of no mattress faced the head of another. The mattresses were really cozy, covered in white sheets, with a comfy pillow and another white sheet to cover yourself. All of us chose our mattresses, K and I chose opposite sides of the room.
On the roof were art installations which looked like a golden colored fabric had frozen in the air while in motion. The lights were slowly turning on and off and the golden wave of fabric glittered and disappeared in sync with the blink of my eyes. I couldn’t figure when the show really started because I had no clue of how it was going to be like. People were still entering through the entry door and bits and pieces of jazz music from the cafe outside filtered in. Was it a part of the act or was I reading too much into it? Suddenly around 10 people came sauntering in and walked on the patches of empty floor in between the mattresses. And then, IT BEGAN.
The Conductor raised her hands and her team everyone else harmonized along with her. It was a goose bump raising performance – a shiver ran down my spine. The selection of songs was a carefully chosen list of lullabies from across the world (List in the end). As the performers moved from one direction to another, the sound of music traveled with them. One of my favorite lullabies was a Japanese lullaby called ‘Ho, Firefly’.
The performers changed their stances during and in between songs. They came and slept next to us, looked at us, it was slightly unnerving but slowly you eased into the whole process and you started to sync your breathing with the breathing rhythms of the person lying next to you. I had gotten really comfortable in my space and closed my eyes and listened to the music, listened to them harmonising and listened to how the voices shifted as they moved from one side of the room to another.
When the show ended, they came next to us and gave us their hand and picked us out f our beds slowly. We stood in the empty patches while they took our beds and lay down in it. And then they ended with the first song they had sung.
If you ever get the opportunity to catch this show at the G5A in Mumbai, I assure you it’s worth every bit of your time. Please don’t miss it.
List of Lullabies:
- Because – Lennon – McCartney
- Wanting Memories – Dr. Ysaye
- Hotaru Koi – Ro Ogura
- Shenandoah – Michael Trotta
- Trilo – Ale Moller
- If I Should Lose you – Ralph Rainger
- Unravel – Bjork
- Ya Thuli Khanjar Maare – Abdul Ahad Nazim
- Der Leiermann
- Media Vita