During PERFORMANCE, a recent production at REDCAT by Rashaun Mitchell, Stephin Merritt, and Ali Naschke-Messing, the staging of chance,(or making chance look like happenstance) the mundane-ness of tasks as movement and the mechanizations of the theater as theater was a welcome but puzzling, nothing to hide behind subterfuge to overabundance, overproduction and over-stimulation in the contemporary 1st world. The effective and gradual lighting by Davison Scandrett heightened the audience’s awareness to where and to when to pay attention whether or not we knew the subliminal light changes were happening. Even though the stage was stripped bare of backdrops and the few props of suspended, gold leaf papers, bars, and tentacle tall, glittering, lightweight ropes created a sparseness that you could see around, the minimalized simplicity of the hollowed out theater was quickly filled with the present tense of all participants’(including the audience’s) subtle to drastic movements, musical stylings and even breathing.
On July 31st, the last day of the month, there was a crescent moon waxing in Virgo. I don’t pay much attention to the moon phases unless I feel weird. I felt disconnected all day on that Thursday at work. Continually interrupted, I made mistakes. Nothing major but still, errors were made.
Having never seen a performance by the Amsterdam based Emio Greco/PC dance company, I was fully unprepared for the extremalist, action that unfolded during their award winning production ROCCO at REDCAT on Thursday, April 17th. I have also never witnessed such violent and tender masculine prowess and physical endurance on a stage, in a theater space nor in an arena before. Coming close would be Nick Duran’s powerfully emotional every time you are near which he presented only a few nights before ROCCO with Brian Getnick at Pieter in Highland Park on the evening of the blood moon eclipse. I venture to imagine that if Nick lived in Amsterdam he would collaborate with Emio Greco/PC–or vice versa if Greco and Pieter C. Schouten were based in L.A. In Nick, I see a younger Emio(if only in premonition from photos and videos) with a similar originality and control of one’s dramaturgic, dance performance aesthetic.
After enduring Trajal Harrell’s Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church at REDCAT on April 3rd, I felt gutted, empty and sad. I was nauseous for being reminded of our human condition; trapped as opposites and the same; responsible for each other, connected by atomic fibers as symbiotic memes. Going into the black box, I wanted to pretend I knew nothing about Mr. Harrell’s creative intentions.
But NOOOO, in case you didn’t get a program from the cardboard box in the shadows at the door, Harrell felt the need to explain the Antigone/Harlem Balls/downtown pedestrian theater connections prior to the start of the performance and apologized(part of the piece?) that the lighting designer was in Belgium and that there might be mistakes despite the stand in lighting designer from Brest being present. I wanted an authentic, non-insider art viewing experience without the tropes of meaning nor histories. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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.