Silence: A Theory of Action, In Action / by Kiersten Nash

Sunday, October 9th. First stop? Strawberry Fields! Around 1:30pm, I arrived only to discover a chorus of Lennon fans from all walks of life have descended on this small patch of grass in honor of their fallen hero's birthday. Imagine that—I forgot to check the calendar &^%!  A not so minor detail that was definitely going to necessitate some reorganization. In the meantime, I decided to test a different strategy. While I stood there desperately trying to come up with a Plan B, I started to distribute the fliers…silently. Surprisingly, I was able to garner some attention–a few laughs, a nod, one finger. Actually, a several commented to one another, "Hey, can you believe this?" I was astonished. A few minutes later when Matthais Kreck arrived, I confessed my oversight and regretfully requested that we schlep his cello about a quarter mile across the park to Bethesda Terrace. Fortunately, Matthais is an easy-going fellow and agreed.

Conditions at Bethesda Terrace seemed much more conducive to performing Silence—i.e. there wasn't already a concert underway. There was, however, a decent amount of traffic. So we situated ourselves in the middle of it all, along the edge of the fountain, and began the  overture. He played for about 10 minutes while I observed people's reactions. Nothing. Not a damn thing. Not a smirk nor nod. Ok, Plan C? Rather than sit an observe, I decided to pass out fliers, actively engage individuals. 10 minutes later, one tourist stopped and wanted her picture taken. Forty-five minutes later, Matthais put down his bow and turned to me:  “I’m done. People are just too stupid to get this.”

   Silence  performed by Matthais Kreck, Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, 20 October 2011.

Silence performed by Matthais Kreck, Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, 20 October 2011.