I was in the audience last night at the Drawing Board Center for the Arts, attending the Inkpot Quartet’s most recent performance. The usual large crowd, invisible in the dark, waited for the performance to begin.
Things started off, as in all this group’s performances, with completely empty space, bathed in white light. Mirado Black Warrior Number Two, the group’s leader, appeared. After much fidgeting and head-scratching, he gazed skyward for a period of time, then began to sketch out the theme for what would be this evening’s performance. Eberhard Faber, the oldest member of the band, joined in with a few deft scrubs here and there, wielding his eraser in an impressive display of corrective expertise. After a while the separate lines of the composition began to coalesce into recognizable shapes. The intersecting lines formed first the corner, then a full representation of the interior of a room. Gradually, various furnishings appeared in the composition as well, indicating that the room was actually a doctor’s office. The audience had a few moments to absorb this scene before a figure became visible, that of a doctor with his arms crossed, speaking to what appeared to be a dismembered human foot on his examination table. (A few gasps could be heard in the audience). At this point, Rapeed O’Graff stepped in, soloing aggressively with ink and penpoint, emphasizing the lines previously laid down by his band-mates and embellishing important parts of the composition with his characteristically dark interpretations of various key elements. Another improvised solo, this one from the excellent Windsor Newton, followed. He expertly utilized his paintbrush, loaded with an ingenious mixture of ink and water, adding subtle shading and shadowy effects to the piece. There was a pause, then Mr. Warrior returned. He approached the single microphone at the foot of the stage. Clearing his throat, he began to speak, carefully enunciating the caption, the climax of the piece, for which the audience had been waiting in breathless anticipation:
The crowd sat in stunned silence for a few moments before breaking into tepid applause and then quickly heading for the exits.
This reviewer now waits again on the edge of his chair, anticipating tomorrow’s performance by this unpredictable but persistent group.