About No Say No Way

Francois Sarhan

What is before the first note I produce onstage?

The latent desire behind all the actions, movements and sounds I thought of in No Say No Way is to show what is before the performance on stage. To talk, to play, to perform, to compose presupposes a braid of solved questions. If these questions are not solved, one is not able to reach the stage of showing it, whatever it is. But if one questions all the factors which allow the performance to take place, hence taking the risk of infinite regression, then there will arise a number of ghosts and repressed fears, painfully dominated by years of repetition, reasoning. Opening this Pandora box is opening the unconscious of everyone who came on stage to play a piece of music, an instrument in the hand, the score in the other, and the head full of fear and expectation. Turning pages, adjusting the seat, trusting the fingers, tuning, concentrating on the very moment of the production of the sound, it all connects to exorcism, magic and irrational relation to the world. Who didn’t make a wish before going onstage?

But by doing so, and full of his or her innumerable rituals, the modern western musician brings sorcery on stage, and shares it with the audience. The most ancient symptoms of a wound between mankind and the world, which is to be cured by a ritual, used to be staged with dances, ceremonies, chanting. Nowadays, on stage, in a totally different context, the performer reproduces this mechanism, close to shamanism.

No Say No Way stages a series of these rituals, in a tragicomical way. Some of this material may seem extreme or exaggerated to some audience members, when actually reality goes much further.

This first theme is enriched by the choice of a transitional object, or voodoo doll, a totem. A totem has no intrinsic value (it’s never made out of precious material), but the value is given by a contract. One decides that this object has that power, whatever the object, whatever the power.

Here, the totem is a triangle, this iconically lonely and limited percussion instrument. It is certainly not the most impressive, neither the most complex nor the most exposed or brilliant instrument of the orchestra. But this very modesty perfectly underlines the irrationality of the contract and of the ritual. This little twisted metal stick carries a huge hope and expectation, as well as fear and threat.

Useless to play it in the end, or to know anything concrete about the triangle: it only goes to belief.

Taming, praising, hiding, blaming, sacrificing, staging the triangle.

A third aspect is the one of the lecture.

One expects from a lecture to be a clear and socially developed sharing of knowledge.

That builds a perfect tension with the regressing questioning of “what is before the first note I play on stage?”

No Say No Way is a lecture that turns into a ritual for dominating the fears of making a lecture.

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