Who needs sci-fi and horror movies when the dystopia is happening right before your very eyes?
I keep thinking this throughout Awaiting Oblivion. I don’t need to say how apt the show is given the current political climate in this country. I’ve been seeing a lot of folks making the comparison between this new hunger for resistance movements and fictitious entities like Dumbledore’s Army in Harry Potter or the folks in The Hunger Games.
How funny. Sure, it’s a valid comparison, but how funny it is that folks need a fictional, whitewashed Hollywood representation of resistance as opposed to looking at the messy history and seeing actual resistance movements led by marginalized communities.
“Resistance” is a loaded word, one chock full of nuances and inequities. For people left outside society’s margins (i.e., those not of the straight, white, cis, able-bodied, male, economically stable variety),...
Originally published February 18, 2017 at 8:00 am Updated February 19, 2017 at 9:37 pm
By Brendan Kiley Seattle Times staff writer
After his arrest at Occupy Seattle, a local actor and youth homelessness worker corresponded with “AO” — a mysterious graffiti/street artist or artists who mailed him art-based “temporary solutions” to stave off despair. The result, “Awaiting Oblivion,” opens at On the Boards.
“The first step in resistance: Don’t kill yourself.”
That “instruction” was mailed in a cigar box last October by “AO,” an anonymous Seattle street artist and activist — who might be an individual art-vandal or might be a group. The box was sent to theater-maker and homeless youth outreach worker Tim Smith-Stewart.
An indicator species is a plant or animal sensitive to changes in the environment. Biologists track these species to monitor ecosystems for adversity, studying them so as to be alert to conditions like disease or contamination.
In our own communities, there are populations who are likewise susceptible to harmful change, the first to suffer from what will eventually poison us all. They’re sometimes immigrants vulnerable to waves of xenophobia, or people of color at the greatest risk for police brutality, or queer communities finding it harder and harder to afford rent in Seattle, or a population of homeless youth whose ranks grow, whose existence is made illegal.
None of this, of course, is news. For many of us the alarm has already sounded...
I confess I like meeting new people though I’m socially awkward and shy. Talking with Tim Smith-Stewart it becomes apparent almost immediately that he’s smart, but not pushy about his knowledge. His natural ability to facilitate shared space made the conversation easy, and he revealed himself as a moral and thorough thinker. Our conversation at the BASE studio in Georgetown led us down many paths; the value of political gestures in the surveillance state, establishing an inherent sense of personal worth not tied to production, systemic oppression in social response to problems like addiction and homelessness, the dehumanizing effect of capital, the value of recognizing and sharing alternative histories, alienation of social media, and the danger inherent in engaging with the non-profit industrial complex.
& I’m like, Tim’s REAL smart...
Also well read. It was a pleasure to talk for a couple of hours...
What liberty might we know if could collapse the duality of gender? Geumhyung Jeong’s hour-long exploration on this theme gives us Oil Pressure Vibrator. I am sure you will leave asking questions, or wishing that you could sit down with the artist or spend some time with her.
Jeong takes us down a path, where knowing the terrain of desire involves decisions, and constant, obsessive observation. Knowing, what feels good. Knowing what does not. Knowing that we get bored. Knowing, that there can even be evolution. Jeong’s work is about knowing something in us that never quite leaves us.
Jeong makes friends with an urgency in her, and allows it to take her places, places in the natural world, places in the inanimate world of objects, places that are not so familiar and yet so. She never takes us back to society, or another human being.
CPR Practice could be reduced to commentary on the failure of eroticism, but I think it’s more than that. There is a sense of emergency - of trying to find a way out through a number of technological means, all of which fail the performer. The increasingly frenetic physical pace, contrasted by the essential inaction of the props, accurately reflects our individual and social values. If we continue down this path, there is no way out…
CPR Practice, by Geumhyung Jeong begins with an erotic dance between a human performer and a CPR dummy and ends in a crisis. Our eroticism of technology, the interplay between reality and (science) fiction, human fascination with life extension via medicine, and our inability to relate are questioned in the course of the hour solo performance.
In By Heart, Portuguese playwright and actor Tiago Rodrigues teaches a poem to 10 people.
While teaching them, Rodrigues unfolds a mix of stories of his soon-to-be-blind grandmother and stories of writers and characters from books that are, somehow, connected both to the old lady and himself. The books are also there, on stage, inside wooden fruit crates. And as each couple of verses is taught to the group of 10 people, improbable connections emerge between Nobel prize winner Boris Pasternak, a cook from the north of Portugal and a Dutch TV program called Beauty and Consolation, and the mystery behind the choice of this poem is slowly solved.
Mother Tamika, the beloved grande dame of the House of Dinah, poses these questions in the opening monologue of Jerome A. Parker and Andrew Russell’s show, playing through Sunday at On the Boards. She tells us here her story of hard work, exploitation, and ultimate deliverance and introduces us to the person and music of Dinah Washington, the so-called “Queen of the Blues.” Mother Tamika’s questions stayed with me through the next hour and a half as I took in fierce costumes and performances, as I listened to the backstories of the House of Dinah’s other sisters, as these womxn of color told of both trauma and triumph. What, indeed, do I know? I’m admittedly an outsider to this world, a white, cisgender girl. I remembered the sacred space of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in...