group activities

Imagine you’re in a warm, dark room surrounded by friends. Laying comfortably on the floor, you hear dulcet tones ringing from the front of the room. As a white parachute blankets your supine body, a voice seems to be saying, “I am wa-ter-fall, you are col-lect call.”

No, I’m not describing a dream Salvador Dali once had about a poetry reading. I’m talking about group – the new performance by Scott Andrew and Nina Sarnelle.

A preview of group was shown at Rhinestone Steel – a queer music festival here in Pittsburgh. Now ready to open their taupe wings and glide, the duo invited the Trans-Q team to the premier of their full-length performance on October 5th at Dance Alloy Theatre in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood. (With a name like that, you’d expect more lasagna.)

The experience of attending group is somewhat ineffable, but here’s how Nina and Scott describe it:

“group is a two-person stage performance using 90 minutes of original music and projected video. Drawing upon conventions of rock concerts, spiritual rituals, yoga classes, team-building exercises, self-help seminars and group therapy, this immersive audiovisual experience leads participants through a series of activities designed to generate intimacy, physicality and energetic connection between them. The audience will participate in karaoke chanting, breathing exercises, guided meditation, aerobic routines and more as they progress through our 7 platforms.”

Kitted out in the best Chico’s could offer, Nina and Scott take to the stage in beige power suits, complete with bank teller jewelry and attitudes from the human resources office at corporate headquarters. In sing-songy tones, they welcome you into group and encourage you to make yourself comfortable. Then begins the first platform: agree.

Preventing the audience from ignoring yet another “Terms & Conditions” tome, the relaxation gurus lead the audience through a karaoke-style recitation of the terms (and conditions) of participating in group. Chanted at a speed that would make Missy Elliot lose control (get it?), the intricacies of the agreement are hard to catch, but they might be summarized like this: silly, safe, spirulina.

The six platforms which follow build on this foundation, making the audience look at themselves and each other with humor, trust, and imagination. You dance, you listen, you play with tiny flashlights. You even get to make some great rhymes along the way: “I am butter cat. You are candy gnat.” Most of all, you leave feeling relaxed, encouraged, and a little wiser.

To get the full group experience, check out their website and look for a performance near you. (Or ask them for a performance near you – hint hint.) Until you get to be part of the group for yourself, check out these photos and expect some great group footage coming up on Trans-Q Television.

Special thanks to Scott Andrew & Nina Sarnelle for inviting us. Also, thank you to Dance Alloy Theatre and VIA Music and New Media Festival.