Artwork from An Open Apology

This strange and experimental art performance will stick with me forever. Four hours of sorrys from people you don’t know, surrounded by strangers you have probably never met. Most performance art is covered in a thick film of pretentiousness, but An Open Apology was so genuine and real. When I walked in, I had no clue what to expect. I had walked in on an apology to a grandparent. After 10 minutes, I felt like I was in a conversation with someone I had known my entire life. The performance was so intimate and truly showcased the two-toned reality of happy and sad. Our lives are cringe-y, sad, hilarious, distressing all at once and An Open Apology never shied away from the messiness of reality. We need more genuine experimental performances that confront reality rather than construct reality.

I loved the silence. The moments of nothingness while we were waiting for a performer to grapple with their apology, cars speeding down the motorway in the background. It was so intimate and awkward and real. The hilarity was the hilariousness of real life. This performance is pieced together from reality. Instead of finding reality in an imagined metaphor, we were finding metaphors in reality. This was a bold performance and boldness paid off. I miss these strangers and their apologies even after being with them for only an hour.

Furthermore, the “do you want to try again?” concept was such a perfect way to confront the messiness of apologies. Often we wish we could apologise to someone with less anger, with less yelling, with less coldness. But we do not get that chance.

An Open Apology was not an art performance; it was a reality performance. It was aware of the smallness of language to encompass such large, abstract feelings. It was aware of the coexisting sadness and happiness within a single “sorry”. An Open Apology is a new wave of reality performances that are not just real, but are aware of their realness.

An Open Apology was a part of the Basement Theatre’s Season of Durational works.  

About the author
Jennifer Cheuk is a Linguistics and Literature student at Auckland University. She published her first anthology of writing at 15. Jennifer is also a cartoonist and illustrator - you can find her work on Instagram: @selcouthbird