My Name is Amen

For the SoNGLiNeS project , Orla Barry worked on a series of seemingly haphazard performances in which the city of Mechelen, its main shopping streets, squares and abandoned shops are used as a backdrop. She uses the street as a rehearsal space. The performance takes place on the Bruul; it serves to interrupt people’s routine journeys, intruding on the city’s footpaths and squares. The actors arrive with a foldable, portable stage containing all the performative elements. The performance is set in verse, each part unfolding to a specially improvised country and western soundtrack played on the pedal steel guitar, with its smooth portamenti, bending chords and complex riffs – one of the most recognizable and characteristic instruments of American country music. The audience is confronted with identical twins reciting a text that touches on the notions of collective memory and split personality through reinvented country ballads. This research into country music is full of references to leaving home/love for work/adventure. The performance plays out ideas of personal histories, family and sisterhood, using country music to exaggerate how these ideas are formed by repetition, chorus and found or invented language. The twins’ speech is choreographed into a childlike, butterfly collage of mirrored images. It resembles a slowed-down, oversimplified popular dance routine. The voices function like a broken radio, allowing the lyrics of folk and country songs to be twisted, linked and staged to serve the purpose of the two sisters who are trying to reinvent and dislodge themselves from the acquired labyrinth of youth. Written and directed by: Orla Barry Performed by: Megan & Jessica Kennedy Music: Filip Wauters

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My Name is Amen, 2009, 12 mins, performance