From Noah/WET: rawe, punk and awe Jan 15, 2011
[Washington Ensemble Theatre's Noah Benezra sent us a blog AND posted a blog conversation with another ensemble member on the WET blog. Read that conversation here!]
There's a lot of rhetoric amongst young theater artists about making "daring" "edgy" theater that "pushes boundaries." This kind of talking mostly leads to confusing plays that look like a rip off of off off Broadway in the 1960's. But cotton fields succeeds where most "brave" artists fail. One thing differentiates it from the slew of arbitrary noise that passes as experimental theater - immediacy. cotton fields looks forward instead of backward and isn't ashamed to be prescient. They present a brand of POP futurism that would feel right at home next to anything in the cultural landscape of today.
that being said, It had all the basic prerequisites for a night of experimental theater. Screaming at the audience, check, nudity, check, wierd gestural dancing, check, non-linear text, check, lot's of fog machine, check and check. But it would be totally trite to break this show down into the various poses and signifiers that it exploits. What comes through more clearly than anything else is the guts of the piece.
Radoslaw Rychcik's show really did all the things that so many just blab about. It was fierce but also an extremely entertaing night and I think it's entertainment value was a huge part of its success. Being Experimental and attempting new gestures and styles is great but doesn't amount to a hill of beans if there's no reason for it, In the end there needs to be cohesion and communication.
In the Solitude of the Cotton Fields Might be the most sincere least neurotic piece of experimental theatre I've ever seen. It also might be the best thing I've seen in seattle.
I walked away from the show last night excited to be working on new projects with my crew at Washington Ensemble Theater. Maybe, we can bring some of that energy and inventiveness to our work, or maybe just maybe, we can all start wearing black suits and skinny ties.