Saturday, October 1, 2011
It's been one of those Portland days where you can't tell what time of day it is because it's completely overcast. Add that to the fact that I have no west coast teams left to care about for the rest of the season & I'm not attending Hardly Stictly Bluegrass...
And then there's a man on a bike in a chicken suit! Hooray!
Ok, the 2 things I did like at TBA were Rude Mechs "The Method Gun" and Andrew Dinwiddie's "Get Mad at Sin." Both of these were, actually, pretty traditional seeming theater pieces, in our odd American theater traditions.
Rude Mechs is a collaborative theater group out of Austin, and really what the performance was was a beautifully choreographed, manipulative one act play. I had been having a discussion earlier in the week about all the gimmicks that bore me about contemporary theater. Audience participation, breaking the 4th wall, senseless nudity for shock value, discussion of an audience's role to make them feel like part of the action... All these things that often are no longer provocative if you've seen much theater.
I also talked about the over-use of the standing ovation- how everyone gets a standing ovation just for going on stage these days. I think it's caused by a combo of the American Idol phenomena and also that we, as a culture, seem to want to encourage people to have high self-esteem. It's a strange audience "do unto others as you would have do unto you" thing.
Anyway, I wasn't ready to eat my words, and they were forcibly rammed down my throat for the entirety of the performance, right through the moment where I jumped out of my seat to applaud. There was a great dance scene involving a role of packing tape that was wonderful, as well as a well-used paper-mache tiger, who I think I have a crush on. Anyway, this work is still touring, so I feel like I shouldn't say more. But if you're in Austin, or anywhere else these guys perform I'd highly recommend it.
"Get Mad at Sin," was a supposedly pitch perfect rendition of a sermon recorded by Jimmy Swaggart, an early tele-evangelistic type. &, as someone who hasn't had a lot of experience watching such sermons it was really just eye-opening it its strangeness. I know a lot of folks who found it offensive- I just found it like a relic of another era. A far gone era. And that's what made it interesting, that it was a historical document made fleshy. Maybe it wasn't standing ovation worthy, but it was damn interesting and really well made.
Both works, actually, were remarkable in their professional-ness. It was easy to trust these performers, to run away with them, because they so clearly knew where they were going. Unlike most of what I saw at the festival, these people were, well, rehearsed. And it was a relief. As interesting as it is to watch the human-ness of, for example, Sue Koh, somehow I'm beginning to appreciate the control apparent in directed performance.