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Small Plots Diary – May 10, 2009 – Speed Walkers

June 24, 2009

May 10, 2009

Speed Walkers (#1), Hanes Mall, Sears Entrance 3:00pm
Walker #1: Shannon; Walker #2: Steve; Walker #3: Mick; Walker #4: Mary Beth

It’s our final Plot of the day at Hanes Mall, but the first go-around for Speed Walkers – a lighthearted scene where a flexible quartet of two women and two men meet, stretch, and stride together. The stretching is set to commence in a quasi-nature zone in the mall, opposite a kiddy playground, at the foot of the escalators leading up to Sears. We’re standing on the second tier of the mall, looking down upon what passes as this consumer paradise’s version of “greenery”: a small patch of carpet and potted plants amidst shiny tile and colorful storefronts. Just as I notice (and ignore) a sign that warns “Please no loitering at railings,” our two female leads descend the escalator clad in quasi-matching outfits of black leggings, running shoes, and grey T-shirts. They do so with an aesthetic of ease and innocence; playfully walking the line between absurdity and purpose as fellow onlookers also begin to take notice of this charismatic pair.

but I'm on a photo shoot...

but I'm on a photo shoot...

Surrounded by plastic palm fronds and sidelong glances, Shannon and Mary Beth stretch aerobically and unabashedly as they carry on a conversation of convincing small talk. Seemingly in their own world, the young ladies’ attention is only interrupted with the gregarious entry of our two male leads – Mick & Steve – from the main section of the Mall. The men are also clad in walking/running gear, and seamlessly enter both the stretching routine and the jovial circle of laughing, joking, and plotting. Quickly fusing into a unit, the scene becomes a collage of movement as Shannon extends across the floor, Steve stretches for the sky; Mary Beth lunges and Mick swivels. With a few nods and limber legs ready to go, the quartet is off – speed walking as an ensemble into the core of the mall.

Stretching and Plotting

Stretching and Plotting

As the scene continually unfolds and repeats – with the Speed Walkers moving into a progressively more visible area of this “green” zone – an air of tension is added to the proceedings by a pair of security guards who begin to watch the watchers. Although we are doing nothing wrong, their inquisitive glares (and brief meeting with a man we guess is an undercover security guard), lead us to a more cautious use of our cameras. I’m thinking the guards’ attention is more to do with patrolling a children’s zone of the mall than an indictment of Small Plots propriety, but the added eyes undeniably intensify the atmosphere. Thankfully, revelry soon ensues as a friend of one of the Walkers rolls a paper ball toward the now highly limber quartet. With the requisite signal to change course in narrative in place, Shannon, Steve and Mary Beth take one last walk through the mall in super slow motion. Onlookers are simultaneously confused and amused as the plot turns simultaneously more theatrical and inconspicuous as our actors walk past trampolines, merry-go-rounds, and various other “rings” of the mall-turned-circus. Surveillance and spectacle shake hands.

Slow Walkers

Slow Walkers

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