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Dorky Park’s performance, “Back to the Present, ” is a responsive paradox. That is the only absolute conclusion that I can come to as I contemplate my experience as an audience member. It is straightforward, but it is not simple. It is child-like, but it is mature. It is entrancing, but it is not satisfying. It is a grotesque- a noun defined as “art characterized by an incongruous mixture of parts of humans and animals interwoven with plants. ” It is also a beauty because it is “an outstanding example of its kind. ” It both defies and longs for defintion. Above all, this remarkable piece requires a willingness to look within oneself for its truth and value.
This performance is unexpected. Images, voices, music, bodies, and objects fly around the stage as several ideas, emotions, and statements are smashed together into one kinetic collage after another. I felt uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and after a while uninterested, and while the performers are very talented I found it hard to relate. It did get me to think, however, and to question my opinions, ideals, and environment. If anything, it was successful in generating reactions.
"Back to the Present" was definitely not what I expected. I wouldn't like to see this piece again because it was too overwhelming and craved too much attention. I felt myself coming in and out of it, but after letting the performance settle in there was really a lot to be appreciated. The undertones were dark, deep, and often funny. Everyone involved was talented and brought who they were to the stage. Not once did they break character. It was interesting to see once
In Back to the Present, Constanza Marcas/ Dorky Park started a conversation with scenes that were current and alarming. The opportunity to have a class discussion and write a paper got me to read the performance notes and spend more time considering what I saw. Two images that were unsettling to me were a muted voice and look at the low side of cycles.
There were images of throwing, landing, grabbing, yelling, punching, screwing, dying. Performers told brief individual stories. While the voices were different, the actions brought up themes of clutter, comfort, consumption, falling, failure, fury. Somewhere between inflatable naked dolls, emptiness, honesty, connection and roller skates, I saw images on a screen: a young woman, bruised, with bloodshot eyes and neglected short hair. This girl on screen was sad, shaky, climbing up, looking out over European roof tops. A young man climbed up after her, calling her back. She pushed him away, simply asserting herself. He seemed to lose his balance, and the ridiculous thing is that he was actually now dead on the pavement. She repeated this mistake again, when her push led to another accidentally fatal fall. It seemed like fate was mocking this girl who was already trapped on screen, two dimensional and silent. Her grieving was interrupted by stupid flying stuffed animals. This picture of dodge ball was kind of funny and unsatisfying. The stuffed animals didn’t leave red marks on her but they just kept coming from one place or the other. I enjoyed the absurdity of it but was not getting it as much as other audience members seemed to be. I wasn’t really uncomfortable until she fell asleep and her cigarette butt touched the pillow. I felt like only a matter of time before the pillow would catch fire. She was trapped on screen and I was watching.
The program notes mentioned cycles, which shed light on the title of the work, Back to the Present. While it is fun to be fully present in a satisfying moment, it takes much more work to be present in the bad moments. Dorky Park’s performers portrayed some low points of relationships and personalities. The program notes also mention flooding and the Mississippi River. I wonder how our lessons of failed relationships could help the U.S. in our current fall.
I found "Back to the Present" somewhat of a roller coaster ride. While watching the performance I felt as if I never knew what would happen next. Numerous times I got lost in the story because all I could pay attention to was the chaos on the stage. By the end of the show, I left with many questions and a rather confused outlook of the piece. Although after much time pondering over the piece I decided it was a unique, creative, and at the same time, over-the-top display of love and hate between two people in a relationship.
Would I go see again? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes.
It was surprisingly refreshing, I was blown away with the companionship and dependency everyone had always having to rely on someone else to finish the product. I feel that it forces the performers to always be awake, and aware to their surroundings at all times. Its one thing to work hard onstage but when props are incorporated everything becomes a matter of discipline and timing.