Through the Gaze of a Navel is an (optionally) participatory yoga class cum solo show, which Emelia Symington Fedy will lead/perform, and in which she will—ever so gently—tear the stuffing out of the trend she calls spiritual capitalism.
Chatting with the Straight in the Anderson Street Space, where Boca del Lupo will present the 45-minute-long piece as part of its Micro Performance Series, and where she has been collaborating on the script with director Anita Rochon, Fedy is candid about her own spiritual consumerism.
“I bought my first self-help book when I was 12,” she begins. “It was called Reviving Ophelia and it was about depression in adolescent girls. I thought, ‘I’m not depressed, but I might get depressed, so I should learn about this.’ ”
As things turned out, that was like her first hit of crack. “Anita has watched me do this for almost 20 years,” Fedy goes on. “I’m like, ‘Oh, my God! I’ve found it! I’ve found it, Anita! It’s only two grand! It’s this online spiritual business school for women. And it’s really empowering and feminist!’ And, like, two weeks later, I’m, ‘I fucking quit. That woman is a charlatan.’ Anita has seen this up and down, right? Two hundred and fifty dollars for swimming with dolphins so I can connect to my fetus. The things that I’ve done: vaginal weightlifting classes because I feel like I’m not in touch with my femininity, crystal-bowl regression therapy. And I’m into it! I commit fully, I believe, and then I get my hopes dashed! ‘Ah! Ah! It was a lie!’ We counted it up and I realized that I’ve spent almost $80,000. And I’m an artist. How is that possible?” That’s when they knew: “Oh, my God, this is a show.”
Trained as a yoga instructor (twice), Fedy will lead a class in which there will be room for 12 people on a giant shared mat and 10 more folks sitting around the sides. “We’ll take really good care of people,” she says sincerely. She hates participatory theatre in which audience members are ridiculed, so she’s reserving the ridicule for her own character, the yoga instructor: “Take a rest and notice: how are you doing compared to everyone else?”
Working on the show with Rochon, Fedy says she’s recognized that, in her consumerism, “I am trying to push away darkness and pain.” But she has also come to accept that “darkness is here to stay. Let’s fucking deal with it.”
She closes the conversation with a story about another healing adventure. “There was an intuitive,” she remembers. “She lives on the other side of North America, and we were on Skype together. What she does is she looks up your akashic records. Do you know what that is? There’s a grid in the cosmos that holds all of our destinies—past, present, future. And she can talk to my angels to get the key to open my akashic records, so the angels can give her the information to pass on to me. Let’s go with that. I thought she was pretty spot-on about a lot of stuff. And then she said, ‘What are you doing next May? Your angels are telling me there’s this online course that might be really good for you to take.’ And my warning bells started to go off. Afterwards, I went online and saw the course that she was talking about. And there’s a picture of her on the website. She’s friends with the woman who gives it. I felt duped! But she’d also said, ‘Your angels are telling you to make a solo show about all of the therapies you’ve tried.’
“So, it’s like life, right? Maybe she is, in some ways, intuitive and connected, and then maybe, in other ways, her ego is involved and she’s a fucking bitch.”
Through the Gaze of a Navel is at the Anderson Street Space from Wednesday to Sunday (April 23 to 27).