an emergency: it’s breathless

by Karen Christopher

a performance is an emergency, it’s breathless its voice is shaky its heart races panic sets in

a performance is an emergency, it’s the deadline
because time is its essence, because it brings to light

it’s a constellation of trouble, a tight corner

the facts the places the way it smelled and who found the way there
never becoming one always separate but still together

it’s a constellation because someone drew a connecting line

performance is time sensitive, like your family

they say your quick response in an emergency could be a lifesaver
but your inflammable dress fails to extinguish the fire as you throw yourself
on the flames that envelope your burning companion

. . .

his life was a series of unsung emergencies

it’s no wonder he was always getting ready
it was nonstop an ongoing rehearsal

a performance is an emergency
response to it will not save a life, it will not be the solution to drought or starvation,
the climate will not be adjusted for the better

that’s how he saw himself, the consummate performer:
only yesterday thousands clamoured for my appearance
almost in a puff of an explosion I disappeared from the scene
I miss the days when everyone knew me wherever we went

he makes a symphony upon a strand of DNA
the engineering of which mistaken for terrorism is the undoing
emergency measures are called and now he’s deep deep down
now we’ll never know it it’s that far that far down

performance is time sensitive, like your life


Karen Christopher is a collaborative performance maker, performer, and teacher. Her London-based company, Haranczak/Navarre Performance Projects, is engaged in the dynamics of collaboration. She is devoted to paying attention as a practice of social cooperation. Her practice includes listening for the unnoticed, the almost invisible, and the very quiet. She was with Chicago-based Goat Island performance group for 20 years until the group disbanded in 2009.

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