Because you never asked
explores the deeply personal
An immersive experience into the archives and memories of a family fleeing Nazi Germany
By Jacqueline van de Geer
April 20, 2023
Because You Never Asked, at the MAI until April 22, is based on the discussions between Roger White and his grandmother, Marianna Clark (née Goldmann), about her experiences fleeing Nazi Germany. The performance combines texts from diaries and letters written by Marianna in her late teens and early twenties with the recordings of her speaking in her nineties.
The story unfolds simultaneously on two different timelines, fusing past and present, to explore how memories are constructed and reconstructed over time.
The performance combines texts from diaries and letters written by Marianna in her late teens and early twenties with the recordings of her speaking in her nineties.
Because You Never Asked is an archive of complex family history. The audience is seated on the two sides of the gallery, leaving the centre space to the performers, where the memories come alive, using dance, movement and spoken word.
The piece is supported by eerie soundscapes combined with the recordings of White’s grandmother’s stories. The dim light creates an intimate atmosphere.
We hear Marianna’s life experience in her own words, and witness the complexity of life in times of war. The choreographic language of the show is based on events from Marianna’s life. Choreographer Helen Simard’s creative process consists of generating movement from images of Marianna’s family stories, memories and archives, using costumes sometimes as sculptures, and letting the dancers occasionally approach the audience.
Simard’s choreography is performed by David Albert-Toth, Marie Lévêque, Brianna Lombardo and Maxine Segalowitz, a wonderful and dynamic team that takes us into Marianna’s world, a universe in which movement embodies the kind of memories that are so nuanced that they cannot be reduced to words, showing us the importance of asking questions.
Historical artifacts from Marianna Clark’s archives, such as passports, photos, diary entries, Nazi documents, and letters between family members and friends, are displayed in the MAI café-bar.
Because You Never Asked at the MAI from April 19 to 22, 2023.
Images: Do Phan Hoi
Originally from the Netherlands, Jacqueline van de Geer crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 2005 to live and work in Montréal. She has a bachelor’s degree in visual arts and performance arts.