Studies in Motion — Eadweard Muybridge

In what seems a lifetime ago, but is actually only two weeks, I went to see the Electric Company’s Studies in Motion — The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge at the Vancouver Playhouse. I went with my daughter and my mother-in-law — the former in her twenties and the latter almost eighty-years old. I fall somewhere between on the age spectrum. It is a rare thing when a live performance, a movie or a piece of music appeals to all age groups, but Studies in Motion achieved this with ease. All three of us left the theatre with the same sense we get when we finish a great book: “Why did it have to end so soon?”

My daughter said, “Mum, of all of the plays we’ve been to, that was by far the very, very best.” I couldn’t agree more.

In the last fourteen days, I’ve lost two friends — one to breast cancer and the other to a violent and unfathomable attack in Pacific Spirit Park. Up until today, I have felt too numbed by shock to open my computer, but on this Easter Monday with the sun pouring through my front window and the plant world springing to life in my garden, I once again feel the urge to tentatively share my thoughts with all of you — my mostly unknown blog followers.

I am not a professional theatre critic. I have no idea what makes a live performance good, bad or even exceptional. I judge my experience on whether or not I am completely engrossed on what is being presented before me, or if I can’t wait for intermission and the next chocolate almond and Pinot Grigio. Yeah — I know, not too sophisticated, but there you have it. So what was it, I ask myself, that made Studies in Motion so memorable and enjoyable? The incredible dancing? The set? The lighting? The acting? Of course, all of those, but for me, I think it was the idea that it is the small moments in life that, when connected, make for the overall experience. It is these small moments; the smile of a friend, the hands held, the experiences shared, the laughter and the tears that, when added up, become the fabric of a relationship.

Muybridge, in his brilliance and in a very clinical and scientific manner, looked at motion as a whole, for example a horse galloping or a woman walking, and then broke that movement down into separate parts of the whole. When I look back on my experiences with the people I have lost over time, I realize that it was the small things, the often overlooked things, that I will miss the most. I will not think, “she was a great athlete, or “he was a great actor,” or “she wrote beautifully,” rather I remember the little things — the quick smile, the encouragement, the whispered asides, the shared jokes and all the other almost imperceptible signals and actions that create a shared understanding between two human beings. That shared understanding is called friendship. It is the most precious thing we can ever have.

i re-read this and think that perhaps I am a bit premature in getting back to the keyboard. Perhaps, but I don’t care. My world will continue to be mixed up for a while longer and that is the way it goes. So, I will put down in words what we all know, but what we sometimes need to be reminded of: Cherish those fleeting moments. Tell your friends, your family, your pet that you love them. You don’t have to do it in words. It can be a simple motion — a hug, a smile, a hand extended. It doesn’t matter how many muscles you use to raise your lips or nod your head — but it is interesting to note that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

For those of you who would like to learn a little more about Studies in Motion, I refer you to the photographer Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s blog. He has posted a much more concrete review of this play. Better yet, go and see it yourself. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

I’m off to emote 🙂


Filed under Stuff to do

3 responses to “Studies in Motion — Eadweard Muybridge

  1. David T

    Always good to have you at the keyboard Julie, no matter what challenges you are facing – from irate airline staff to writers block to personal tragedy. Anyway what with the lack of dialogue going on here at your blog, I feel compelled to lob a few soft words over the net to you. A while back you passed along the heaven on earth essay info and it got me thinking that heaven and hell are really concepts for the binary thinkers, folks who like seeing things in black and white and quick to judgments that remain entrenched. But my observation is that we go through easy times and we go through rough times and at the extremes we brush up against heaven and hell. Human nature seems to force us to keep trying to capture those heavenly moments and somehow encapsulate them yet the evidence seems to be that stasis is impossible. We cannot grab on to heaven on earth, not because it isn’t here sometimes but because a heaven stagnated becomes a cesspool. So there you go kid, a response to what is a far too one-sided conversation, and I hope someting that might inspire other readers to pipe up.

  2. Hi David,
    What a sweet guy 🙂 I am not alone, and if people don’t want to respond, I’m okay with that. I know they are visiting and reading. It’s true what you say about binary thinking and it applies to life in general. We are mislead to believe that we should always be happy, but that is not how life works. Sometimes we have to be sad, or angry or lethargic. Sometimes life is perfect and other times flawed. I accept that. Always good to hear your comments.

  3. Pingback: STUDIES IN MOTION: trailer and reviews « Muy Blog

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