Adam Stone

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PLAY 009/0322-20


There’s a flower my grandmother told me about. I never saw it, but she talked about it every time I went to see her. She talked about this remembered flower when it was clear she didn’t remember the names of anyone in the room, times when her morning had already disappeared from her and it was as though she’d simply arrived into today here on this bench, mid-afternoon. She would describe the flower where it grew by the edge of the woods near the home she had with my grandfather — their first home — a few months after they were married. She talked about where it grew and also what it looked like spinning in her fingers when she pulled one and lay there on the hill, and what it looked like with the others in a jar on the table or by the window. She never learned what it was called, but had gotten to know it so well that she could still describe all its tiny folds and creases and where one color ran into another and all of its shapes within shapes. She would even tell me about which bugs had an intimate relationship with it, and which ones only touched down on a petal or climbed up its stem to rest for a moment, pondering who knows what, before moving on.

Her description of the flower never changed. Sometimes she might focus on one aspect or another, but the form of it was always true to itself, real.

As I said, I’ve never seen one. I’ve never come across any flower that matches the exacting description she gave; an image I now have pressed in my memory. I never saw one in the wild or in a shop or in a photograph, but yes, it’s a memory.

And so because I can not point you in the direction of where to go and see one, or what it’s called so that you might research and find it, you might, at some point, refer to the paintings of the flower I've done elsewhere.

Don't forget, they've been painted from memory. I didn’t create this flower, it’s something that grew. So in your approach to creating this dance performance, which is meant (we’ll surely say) to investigate a movement of growth — not transforming the dancing human body into the flower, but rather growing one from the other, as though the body at point A is the seed which grows into and arrives as the flower at point B — my suggestion is that you try to first describe the outline of its ghost; trace around its absence. The flower is something that has, and therefore can exist. The flower is a remembered possibility, and so its shapes are somewhere in your shapes.

So, you have to remember it. It won’t work if you try and make a dance based on my paintings. In order to do this thing right you’re going to have to figure out what grew before the flower, what elements aligned to imagine it, and what else was growing nearby at the time. Probably the cast of dancers isn’t big enough so you should maybe hold another round of auditions and hire more. Please don’t hire a set designer. The flower needs to grow in the theater itself so if a design is constructed it will keep everyone — all of you trying to make something living and dynamic — locked into something already done, already stated, dead. The bodies are all you need. After all, it’s movement that’s going to make this flower — one thing moving touching another thing moving until one day something is going to move like the flower did and maybe the audience will be there to see or possibly the moment will arrive in a rehearsal and you’ll all be aware of it but then you'll have a difficult time finding it again. Still, you were there when it happened, and so now you remember the flower and I still think you should, or I hope you will, try and get there again even if it seems impossible, which it probably is, but that's okay because maybe some of the audience has, in fact, seen the actual flower in real life and so this performance wouldn’t register to them as a new memory anyways. Instead, their experience would be a purely theatrical one where a lot (really, a lot) of people onstage are seen attempting something which, while it’s not clear exactly what, is definitely something these observers (who have never danced in their life) now find themselves wanting to audition for the next time there’s an opportunity to do so.

Maybe what you actually need to remember is that the flower — any flower for that matter — is a lure. Its entire reason for being is to entice. Probably then, you’ll know you’ve made the thing only after the fact. You’ll know it when suddenly there’s an audience — all of whom have made their way into the theater without having been told or asked; they were seduced by this theatrical flower (please, don’t misread, I really don't mean this metaphorically). You’ll know too because the room will feel immediately crowded to you, and it will be clear in that moment that it’s time to move on. What brought you here in the first place, the pull of a certain seduction, it won’t be satisfied. Something else, though, something deeper and more base, will have been fed and that energy will bring you toward the next.