September 3, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on September 2, 2018

Another unseasonably cool day, and this one is quite blustery, too, with rain in the forecast.

Last night’s gala event, Edge, organized by the Ocean Alliance at the Paint Factory in Gloucester – a pleasant, and very understated affair – remained dry, although we all froze a bit. Except perhaps those intrepid folks who actually showed up in down puffer coats (never thought I’d see that in early September, but we were exposed to some tough breezes).

I was content to simply sit and wait for the performance to begin while munching on the rather good nibbles I’d piled on a wobbly paper plate. The wine glasses were real glass, though. No place to set them down except on the gravel. The chairs were all arranged under a canopy, outside. Since it got dark so quickly the canopy served not as protection from the sun, but from eventual rain – which, luckily, didn’t materialize.

So I sat in the first row while W. was tasked with refilling our plates and glasses once or maybe twice. The chairs faced the open door of one of the building’s rooms. Inside, a small art installation, and some people avoiding the inevitable exposure of outdoor seating in the brisk wind, and a quintet (strings) warming up to perform an original score by Robert Bradshaw, who was conducting.

When the actual performance was to begin, all the indoor huddlers had to find their seats outside, under the canopy. By now it was quite dark, even though barely past eight o’clock.

Matthew Swift started things off with a reading about whaling – I wish I’d paid more attention as to what he was reading from. Some nineteenth-century account of vessels shipwrecked by a giant whale, and cannibalism. I didn’t think it was Moby Dick, but as I said, I was kind of spacing out a bit, falling into the gap between expectation and reality. The string quintet played between each reading segment, and Sarah Slifer Swift and another woman danced at either end of where we sat, further widening the gap by splitting our attention: eyes forward to see Matthew, standing outside the open doorway, reading; eyes front to peer into the doorway, into the building’s interior, to catch a glimpse of the musicians, only partially visible obviously; and then, almost by chance, realizing, Oh wait, eyes left and eyes right, to catch the dancers.

Actually, writing about it now I realize it was both immersive, like a shipwreck when you fall into the sea, and also discombobulating, like any disaster would be. The freakishly cold weather added to the unreal-reality, as did the simultaneous eating and drinking. No boundaries.

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