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Appropriation Theatre: The Wooster Group’s CRY TROJANS! At REDCAT

Redcat Costumes

Though I lived in NYC for 6 years, I never saw a Wooster Group production. When my friend invited me to see the Group’s remake of CRY TROJANS! (Troilus & Cressida) at REDCAT on opening night, I was thrilled. The fact that Wooster Group is premiering CRY TROJANS! in Los Angeles and not anywhere else, says A LOT about the state of performing arts here. Not only is it thriving but established venues are more confident that bringing a company like Wooster, to Los Angeles will inspire entertainment seekers to choose a live, black box theater experience over a more predictable, safer movie theater outing.

If your brain is a little dumbed down from not picking up a book lately, knowing the synopsis of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida certainly helps fill in any confusing plot gaps you may experience while viewing CRY TROJANS.

"Cry, Trojans!"

And, if you are new to Wooster Group, know that technology is employed as a serviceable character or even a malleable plot directive. Lead, supporting actors and extras interchange their bodies on and off the stage to produce sounds that are being pounded out by one and amplified by another, creating a whole new meaning to what a chorus can be. I won’t spoil any of the Group’s production value tricks. You should get to REDCAT to see them and the truly talented actors for yourself. As a visual artist, the “early American” sets and costumes are right up my misleadingly temporary, adhoc, make-do alleyways. And, for those seeking star status recognition, Casey Spooner plays Antenor, a Trojan commander.

As a founding member and director of the Wooster Group, Elizabeth LeCompte, has flayed the concept of appropriation wide open and served it with unexpected humor and deep, contemporaneous philosophic content at the same time. You may ask yourself, “What is more difficult, important or original; memorizing lines from Shakespeare, watching a video monitor to copy and repeat movement cues “correctly” or verbally repeating lines of another recorded performance of the same play? How new can a Shakespeare production be?” On the stage of CRY TROJANS, the actors become the voyeurs as the engaged audience watches on and tries to figure out how all the steady movement connects, disconnects and rejoins in a avalanche of love and war-filled climax. The Wooster Group literally lifts the Shakespearean theater production bar to an unprecedented height in CRY TROJANS—at least in my untrained to Greek tragedy comprehension.

Cry Trojansis playing at REDCAT through March 9. Get more information regarding performances here.

Photos via.

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