Critical Distance

SHUDDER: Rita McKeough
August 7, 1998

a response to the exhibition Deirdre Logue and Kim Truchan

As performers in Rita McKeough’s work Shudder, we experience the work as both empathic participants and as physical bodies. We are simultaneously corporeal elements and emotional recipients, existing within the layers and cycles of the work. Although the piece is most specifically about the realities and implications of fear, the experience of Shudder is substantially more complex, giving rise to feelings of dissonance, containment, anxiety and despair. We are performing bodies on the precipice of articulation, on the edge of language, on the tip of the tongue – both consumed and set free.

In flight there is the promise of escape.

Agitated, fleeting, reserved, panicked, searching – these directives require that the performer draw from personal experience and rely on her own disposition in order to communicate aspects of the work. The body reacts intellectually, psychoemotively and physically.

Nervous ticking.

Repetition. Relentless and articulate, the phrases, choruses and activities create cycles – meant to be broken. The work’s unpredictability allows for ideas to permeate the unconscious. Though conscious of performing, timing and structure, the body experiences a fragmentation; a scattering of the parts; a rational breakdown; a chaotic collection. A body once silent is brought forward into calculated pandemonium. A state which exists somewhere between falling and hitting the ground.

The act of performing in McKeough’s work demands vulnerability and control; melancholy and rage. These elements activate the courage to communicate in an often dangerous language.

Shaking something loose.

As performers, our commitment belongs to an audience who have chosen to be receptive, on some level, to our behaviors and movements; our physical and emotional selves; to possibilities.

I hesitate to rationalize my experience.

The success of the work is in its intellectual generosity, honesty and in its response to notions of repair, survival and moving through.

Breaking down the door.


The text is based on the experience of Deidre Logue and Kim Truchan as performers in Rita McKeough’s work
Shudder, which wa presented at Ace Art Inc. in Winnipeg on August 7th, 1998. Performing also in the piece were Diana Campanaro, Louise May, Kathleen Yearwood and Rita McKeough. Through our experience with these individuals a great deal was shared, and for that opportunity we are truly grateful.