3 people 3 cups

Kate and two other performers sit around a table center stage. Another performer sits off to the side with a white board, keeping score. Each performer has a red Solo cup in front of them. At the same moment, they begin tapping and turning the cups in a complex pattern that completes a cycle when they set the cup down in front of the performer sitting on their right. The cycle continues as Kate begins to talk.

Kate: I learned how to play this game when I was in high school. I think it was called “cup game” or at least that was what I called it. The goal was to keep it going and not be the one to mess up the rhythm. Any time you messed up the rhythm you were kicked out of the group.

If Kate or another member of the trio messes up, they are kicked out of the group and the scorekeeper makes a tick next to their name. When two out of three performers have been kicked out, all three join back in again.

They continue to tap and turn the cups. The rhythm is hypnotic.

Kate: It took me a while to learn it. I would go through the steps over and over pantomime to myself. I would verbalize it in my mind as [Kate waits for a new cycle to begin] “clap, clap, tap, tap, tap, clap, up, down, clap…”

They all three do the more complex over hand/exchange portion.

Kate: But I couldn’t describe that second part, with all of its complicated moves, with short enough words to complete it and keep time. So, it became [Kate waits for a new cycle to begin] clap, clap, tap, tap, tap, clap, up, down, clap, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum.

They continue the cycle, slightly faster.

Kate: It was hard to say in rhythm, turn your right hand so with one movement you turn the cup parallel to the table, tap the rim of the cup on your left palm, tap the base of the cup on the table, then tap the base of the cup on your left palm, hold the cup with your left hand and release it from the right, slap your right palm on the table, and set the cup rim-down in front of the player to your right.

They continue the cycle, slightly faster.

Kate: I loved it, and I wanted to be the last player and win the game. I wanted that feeling of having executed a complex physical task perfectly.

They continue the cycle, slightly faster.

Kate: But if I’m really honest, the competition and being the best weren’t really what made me want to play it over and over.

They continue the cycle, slightly faster.

Kate: What I liked the best was when a huge group was playing it perfectly, synchronized with everyone else playing, cycle after cycle, with no one getting kicked out. The sound and the movement was thrilling.

They continue the cycle.

Kate: That’s what I hoped for each time I played. The feeling of each player contributing to getting those synchronized sounds and sensations just right. All of us together.

They finish one more cycle, and stop. The scorekeeper flips the board to face the audience and erases the score immediately.

Curtain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s