What Happened to the Seeker takes experimental performance to a new level

Justin Borrow

Staff Writer

What Happened to the Seeker, an innovative and intriguing performance piece created by Nadia Ross, leaves audience members seeking themselves. 

First and foremost, this piece is not theatre; it was never meant to be theatre and the creator is explicit in demonstrating this to the audience. 

Rather, this performance is an experience. It is a personal, intimate expression in which the creator reveals sensitive details from her life and her personal struggles with her work and the world around her. 

What Happened to the Seeker? That is the ultimate question. Seekers were the hipsters of the 1960s who rejected societal expectations in order to search for their own true spirituality. The piece is broken up into three sections: an audio experience, a video experience and a visual experience. The audience is also broken up into three groups and each group begins the experience in a different section. 

This is considered a triptych -- a three-piece story. The experience varies for different groups as each group views the performance in a different chronological order. 

During the audio experience I observed a conversation between the creator (Nadia Ross) and her friend George about the creation of this performance piece. Who is the seeker? George constantly refers to the creator as being the seeker; he exclaims that this piece is about her to which she forcefully denies. The conversation is intimate and personal, just like the entire piece. The creator makes this piece personal by admitting that, to a certain extent, the seeker is a fictionalized version of herself. 

While Nadia lead me into a meditation she made the audience focus upon the black void between the stars, instead of the star itself. The intention was to focus on the blank space, just as the author or director must first contemplate this emptiness before they immerse themselves in the creation process. This was a piece of art in which the audience is not spoon fed an answer but instead left to contemplate the emptiness and create from it what they wish.

The theme of the blank space continues into the next experience which was the video component of the piece. This time however, the blank space is depicted by a blank piece of paper. The overall piece highlights the struggle of the artist, and essentially the struggle of the seeker, to self-actualize. 

The lovely thing about this experience was the level of comfort the audience experienced. The space was intimate and our comfort as an audience was top priority. We were immersed in a soothing meditation at the end of the audio experience, given popcorn and comfortable seats for the video, and finally, a bar was set up on the stage so that the audience could drink while peeking into intimate details of the creator’s journey via an exhibit. It felt more like a cocktail party with close friends then a room full of strangers experiencing art.

So what did happen to the seeker? I left the theatre deep in thought about this lack of clarity. I felt isolated and alone because of my unknowing. Then it hit me; I was feeling the same struggle that Ross felt during her creation process. This show taught me that not knowing right away is perfectly alright. I believe we all are seekers in some way or form. We go about our lives trying to find some sort of spiritual clarity whether it is through organized religion, self-meditation or just self-acceptance. We grow up trying to understand ourselves and our place in this world and all we can hope for is that one day, we find our answers. We all are given a blank page in life and it’s our responsibility to create from it what we will.

What Happened to the Seeker was presented by The Theatre Centre and STO Union. For more information visit http://theatrecentre.org.