Past Tense / Future Perfect

I recently prepared a short response for Sarah Miller’s Director’s Cut – Past Tense / Future Perfect. As part of Performance Space’s 30 year celebrations former director’s were invited to curate a night. Sarah’s brief for Past Tense / Future Perfect was to respond with a work we younger artists wish we had seen and a work we wish to see come into being. My response was quite personal and embedded in my recent thinking and making.

It was during the weeks leading up to my recent work Cat & Mouse, that I first heard about The Sydney Front’s Don Juan. Clare and Ed both talked about the structure of the performance and the engagement between artist and spectator of this particular production as a way to help me think through some of the questions I was asking – how to move an audience through an open space, how to reconfigure their relationship to the work, how to communicate the order of this world we were trying to create. And so I decided that this would form the first part of my response. It was quite a simple homage really – I appropriated the opening form of Don Juan – cordoning off the seating bank, leaving the audience to roam and group on the stage instead. Clare Grant and Chris Ryan surprised me with a cameo! Sitting in white nighties, watching the audience from the seating banks. 

The second part of my response was to read a section of text produced by a participant from Cat & Mouse. It seemed appropriate to reference this recent work which is so tied up in thinking about Don Juan. But it also seemed appropriate as its exactly the point of thinking that I am at right now – caught between a work just made and the prompt for a new work yet to be realised. I’m not sure what that is, but I felt that this text would serve as a provocation for that. The text I read at Past Tense / Future perfect is below: 

October 5, 2013.

The following is a short piece of text from a moment already past.

Notations of an action long since ceased.


Recorded by an anonymous observer, these words have fallen into my possession. A found document. A fragment of a situation – abstract tellings that I have no memory of.


I was there.


But they are also a score.


Instructions for action / Invitations for play / a duration unknown


He speaks

He watches then walks


She lets her hair out

They touch


She circles

She leads and follows

He watches me write


Someone whistles.


She pulls a thread

They caress


She is both in and out… they giggle

She pushes

He rolls

they talk outside


he rolls

they clump together



A whisper.



She sighs


Everyone stops


She watches me

She ignores me


He changes the light

He reads

He takes over


I spill

I persist

She snuggles


He talks

He laughs and talks under his breathe

He cackles

He questions

He references the game

The choice is always there. The actors do not trap the spectators and those who accept to play the game really have nothing to fear (Jean-Marie Wynants on Sydney Front’s Don Juan, 1991).


He teases

She sits up

She lies down


I close my eyes.


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