Monday, September 30, 2013

Radar LA 2013

Cross-posted to Frank's Wild Lunch and Bitter Lemons.

I've seen four Radar LA shows this year. I had ambition to see more but last-minute planning and a cramped schedule combined with tiny venues (could we please at least have more performances of Jerk, please?) to make me scramble for shows I could fit on my calendar. I'm writing about three of them here; I really admired the fourth, Track 3, but I also felt a kind of clever, cool remoteness about it, so I'm going to let its champions speak for it and focus on the other three.

Tercer Cuerpo (Third Wing), was first on my agenda. Stylistically, the show felt understated in the space at LATC. The press materials mention that this show was developed for performance in the director's Buenos Aires apartment, and I can imagine that the tight space would enhance the experience; I'm sure it has a rawness in a cramped apartment that is hard to recreate. The stories are also relatively controlled; the overlapping of storylines and their explosive climax are compelling but not exactly unexpected.

Still, there's something moving about the way banality and longing collide to make the piece larger than the sum of its parts. The primary location is an office that time and management seem to have forgotten. One worker is so desperate she resorts to living there, while another (who just buried his mother) has co-opted an item of clothing from another co-worker who recently committed suicide. These characters are trying to live in the midst of all this death and desperation. They try to have affairs and have babies, even as they remain baffled by their own actions. One of my favorite lines went something like "It's just death coming closer and making us all stupid."

El Año en Que Nací  (The Year I Was Born), was next on my agenda. Colin already wrote briefly about it about it and we're on the same page about it feeling more like an entertaining, lengthy unconventional history lesson than a play. That said, I think that's a pretty cool thing to be, so I'm okay with that (maybe with a few minutes shaved off somehow).

This show's full of intense stories about individuals and families affected by the Pinochet dictatorship. They're told by the people who are literal products of that history; the contribution of their own family letters, photos, keepsakes and artifacts lend real power and authenticity to the experience. In sharing, they reveal themselves and their families as threads woven together to help make history, while also themselves being made by it. They talk personally about historical and political forces so huge as to be almost incomprehensible; the show manages to be macro and micro at the same time. I'm glad I saw it, and now I want to take a Chilean history class.

And then there's Stardust. The story, told in the texts of Junior, a black gay teenager reaching out to anyone who will listen, is pretty solidly the stuff of urban melodrama. The fact that it’s told as first-person textspeak (via projection behind the dance) gives it humor, immediacy, and an odd abstraction, which nicely complement the gorgeous dance by David Roussève/REALITY. Stardust is an impressive work of art, elegant and potent, not unlike the Van Goghs and the Nat King Cole songs that Junior looks to for solace. I pretty much lost it when "Mona Lisa" played and the combination of the great song and a stunning dance duet took place. I felt so much meaning and beauty in that interlude I was overwhelmed.

Stardust wound up being a nice unifier between the earlier two pieces; a young man, reaching out for anyone or anything, trying to stay alive, finally summons up the courage to announce that he matters. He says this to a world that is hostile to him and a social order that has no place for him, but most importantly, he says it to himself. My favorite projection in the whole piece was the young man shouting (via text, mind you) "I HERE!!!!!!!" Thank you David Roussève/REALITY for introducing me to him.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I have been way too overdue

in posting anything lately, especially since there's so much to post about. With the day job, producing and publicizing the show, and just going to it, it's hard to think of much else. Apologies, but then I'm usually kind of intermittent with this thing, aren't I?

First there's the fact that we pulled off the 2nd run of The Miss Julie Dream Project at all, which I'm I feel pretty great about. The show got better and the audiences got bigger every night. Of course I wished we could run it longer, if not indefinitely, but theater is ephemeral, after all, so that's the way it goes.

Then there's Steven Leigh Morris' review, which I remain pretty thrilled by. No bad review could've made me any less than proud of our show, but I do appreciate this. This is a nice quote--
The primary beauty of the Fell Swoop Playwrights' project lies in the way it transforms the play's dodgy sexual politics — and Strindberg's psychological explanations for his characters' destructive behavior — from the logic of cause and effect to the surreal. In this Miss Julie-in-Wonderland, the reasons things happen aren't necessarily discernible. Actions are arbitrary and only make sense from a subconscious dream state, leaving a lingering, eerie effect. After all, it's not so much the absence of logic but the introduction of an alternative logic that rattles the cages of the determinedly rational.
And now there's trying to figure out what's next, which is what I'm trying to do. Having a weekend of writing and journaling and enjoying myself quite a bit at the moment. Next week I think I'll be writing about some RADAR LA shows, but I have to figure out tickets first.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Miss Julie Dream Project 2.0 - Photos

Our show is looking great and it gets better every night. Please come check it out. We're up tonight at 6 and then we have four performances next weekend. Get tickets here.