Photos by Bruce Barton ©2009 & 2011.
Swimmer (68) (2009 – 2011)
Text and Performance by Ker Wells
Co-Created, Directed and Designed by Bruce Barton
Dramaturgy by Pil Hansen
Soundscape by Richard Windeyer
Projections Design by Cameron Davis
Lighting Design by Laird MacDonald
A lone figure appears on stage and begins an elusive conversation with the audience that, over the course of the performance, emerges as an attempt to piece together the details from a pivotal moment in his life: the years 1968 and 1969, in which he would have been 5 and 6 years old, and which seem to be the last that he can remember. His memories, while intense, are few and disconnected; they including recurring images of his twin sister and his journalist father, and various events of a summer spent in a lakeside cottage. In an unconscious attempt to make sense of these fragments, he further draws on a range of mediatized images and sounds that would have been available to him as a child: the war in Viet Nam; the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy; Pierre Trudeau dancing and pretending to fall off a set of stairs; the televised Apollo 11 moonwalk, and two films: The Swimmer and The Third Man, which (it emerges) he saw in the summer of 1969. Ultimately, the “story” he tells the audience – and himself – is a pastiche of these personal and public memories, which culminates in the reconstruction and revelation, both to the character and the audience, of what is apparently the final memory of his ‘real life’: his accidental drowning on the night of the moonwalk.
Swimmer (68) focuses on the complicated meeting between these two forms of identity. It explores an individual’s relationship with the mediated messages of a lifetime – published, broadcast, televised, projected, and otherwise electronically communicated. That is, it takes place in the deep and troubled overlap between personal memory and mediated memory. Swimmer (68) is an attempt to not drown.
“Director and co-creator Bruce Barton’s elegant use of a few props, lighting and space generate an immensely suggestive mise-en-scène … the actor’s buoyant performance and the beautiful production capture a world with less gravity than our own.” NNNN Naomi Skwarna (nowtoronto.com)
Performance Text: Canadian Theatre Review 145 (2011): 73 ff.
Sample Review: http://www.nowtoronto.com/stage/story.cfm?content=180959&archive=30,40,2011
Sample of My Publication on Swimmer (68): “Paradox as Process: Intermedial Anxiety and the Betrayals of Intimacy.” Theatre Journal 61.4 (2009): 575-601.
Images from Swimmer (68) premiere production, May 2011
Performed Glen Morris Studio Theatre, Toronto, ON, Canada