photo by Tim Summers
ilvs strauss is a Seattle-based performance artist, writer, and mover. strauss works across genres, through film, dance, sound, text and more. Recent projects have investigated red sea cucumbers, womanhood, and the color teal. For the 2016 Festival, strauss branches out to work with a team of female dancers, employing her signature off-the-cuff movement style, conversational super- and sub- text, sonic and visual repetition, and the help of the band Daft Punk.
Catch strauss' new work in Week One in the Studio Theater.
by Daemond Arrindell
Young Woman takes the stage,
steps from darkness into the light like creation was her idea
and she belongs right where she placed her body.
Young Woman speaks but the words don't belong to her.
Other women's words have climbed into her mouth.
The words were invited. They have her permission.
There is no tragedy here.
Young Woman shares the words that have climbed into her mouth with us.
They paint a picture but pieces are missing
her body fills in the blanks.
First her arm is a garden. Then her arm is a tomb.
There may be a tragedy here.
She does not give us the keys to whatever big bang came before her.
That blank has no arm.
Her voice unfolds the words like origami.
Young Woman unfolds into a garden.
Into a home.
Into a question unanswered.
Into a grown woman with a fault line.
A stiff wind blows her into our hearts.
We don't know what to do with her
by Gregory Laynor
Eleven Sentences for Employee of the Year
How old were you when you were eleven years old?
Employee of the Year, you are now three years old.
How old were you when you were three years old?
I was in an audience watching Employee of the Year.
How old were you when you had your first performance evaluation?
What do you see, on a scale of 1-10, in your favorite song or shadow?
On a scale of 1-10, what's your worst memory?
On a scale of 1-10, what's your most expensive memory?
What's your newest memory?
Somebody was telling me that the Employee of the Year performers used to drink ginger ale but now drink seltzer.
Gregory Laynor teaches art and language at University of Washington Bothell and has been writing The Making of Intermedia: John Cage to Yoko Ono, 1952 to 1972. His singing of Gertrude Stein's...
by Tina LaPadula
Employee of the Year is a testament to the power of simplicity...
...and it’s got me thinking about the impact of unadorned story telling and the truth seeking that ends up defining who we are.
There is a gut wrenching intimacy in this collectively held monologue. Such thoughtful care in one woman’s story. And, there’s something very special about preteens. A palpable vulnerability, courage and honesty in the simple way these young performers stand, the way they speak, the way they gaze straight forward into the audience and demand our attention. Oh that we could all have our lives acted out by 11 year olds. Maybe witnessing this show will suffice. The experience is at once nostalgic and immediate, like peering into a universal looking glass and seeing your current self and the person you used to be.
The work unfolds episodically in the genuine way most us recall our lives; a collage of half remembered sentence fragments, visual freeze...
by Beatriz and Lucia Santos
This evening I watched the performance Employee of the Year. I can’t call it a play because it’s deliverance and cast were so unique. Instead of having millions of dollars worth of props, costumes and sets all they had were their shadows and a carpet. They still managed to convey a beautiful and heart wrenching story. The five girls switched off, each playing a different part of J’s life. The many time jumps and opinions meld together to form a perfectly intense story about a girl’s life long search for her mother.
- Beatriz Santos, age 10
Tonight I saw the play Employee of the Year. It was an extremely thoughtful and poignant production, and even after the show I’m thinking about it a lot. Even though the only thing on the stage other than the incredible...
by Frank Boyd
There are many good reasons to see 600 Highwaymen’s Employee of the Year. In fact, all of the usual good reasons are accounted for. Beautiful performances and writing. Light, set and sound design. The vibe. The event. Everything is in order. 5 stars out of 5 for real.
But I just couldn’t get over the fact that they are here. The performers. Five eleven-year-old girls. Rachel, Stella, Alice, Violet and Candela. I knew going in that the show was performed by young girls but when they appeared I had an instant lump in my throat and it never went away. I realized I always take for granted that the performers of the show I’m seeing are there. Of course they are. They’re actors or dancers and they’re here because they’re in the damn show where else would they be and I wish they would move it along so I can decide if I like this or not.
Employee of the Year was totally different. I was completely invested in the story the they were telling but I...
by Parker Matias
The words “let go,” sends five girls, ages nine and ten, into a surreal routine. What must be meticulously choreographed, seems somehow loose and reminiscent. One girl dances as if completely alone, twirling and waving her arms gracefully. The others run back and forth across the tiny stage, arms locked, unified as one. They trade giggles and grins as they jostle up and down. This scene is beautiful.
Besides the laughter, the only sounds are the slapping of bare feet on the stage floor, like rain on thick windowpane. Rows of tulips, or the gentle sway of a willow branch in the wind. A robin crossing my vision, alighting and settling. The acting is pure: intentionally unintentional. At its best, Employee of the Year achieves the delicate beauty of nature itself.
The breathless monologues of loss and discovery, tragedy and introspection, capitalized by thick silence, are gripped with tension. The story builds in familial complexity only to evaporate in an...
by Jordan Moeller
The most formative experiences of our lives are often traumatic. They can occur in the most mundane of settings, highlighting and imprinting fragments of our surroundings that would otherwise slip through the cracks of memory. These facets, these wildly unimportant details, color our memory of traumatic events like distinctive and definite pockmarks.
Such is the style of the storytelling operating in 600 Highwaymen’s Employee of the Year. It is a story of a woman and her relationship to the fleeting nature of truth and time. Fitting, then, that the story is told by five very young women who make up for what they lack in age with eloquent and profound honesty.
The players move and speak with unquestionable artistic competency. They race across the stage and strike abstract poses with precision and gusto, while projecting and articulating their extensive text like true thespians. But there is an undeniable joy that bubbles just underneath the professional...