NW New Works blogged May 15, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

One of Annette Toutonghi's acting students posted this thoughtful response to the Mainstage show last weekend on her own blog, Acting Schmacting:
I went this last Saturday and saw part of the NW New Works Festival at On the Boards. There were four performances the night I went. The one I specifically went to see was Pants by Annette Toutonghi, who is one of my acting teachers, and some other people I don’t I can’t name, because I don’t have the program here with me.

I ran into some people I know from acting school, which is fun. It makes me feel like I’m a cool hip person when I run into people at performances. See ”¦ I know people, I’m an actor, how cool am I? Much better than the feeling of going to a party and not knowing anyone there, and being a big dork, which is how I go through most of my life.

I always try and go see a teacher in action if I can. I saw Annette in The Women which played at ACT the end of last year. This was the second time I have seen her, but this time it is in a piece that she had written and directed collaboratively with some other artists.

I have to say I really liked it. Especially the opening image of Annette scooting off stage followed by a pair of disembodied pants. Delightfully creepy. It was a non-linear performance, with dance, video projection, music, and theatre blended together.

What was it about? Hard to say specifically, but I don’t think that was the point. The image/sense I was left with was about navigating the world and the anxieties that it brings up. If I was more intellectual I could analyze it, but I will just say that it was cool, and I liked it. I hope to see it again in some form, and perhaps a longer piece. I was left wanting more, which is the best thing you can give your audience, right?

The other performances were good as well. There were two other dance pieces. One was a lesbian feminist extravaganza called Eden Between the Lines, Chapter 1 by Shaneeka Harrell and Catherine Cabeen. The two dancers were good, sexy, the choreography was erotic and dynamic. I loved how they worked these long red ribbons in as symbolic ties-that-bind/red tape.

However the spoken word part did less for me, mostly because the message was being sung to the choir. Being gay and all, I’m all for loving whoever you want to love, equality, and gay marriage. But the message was one I’ve heard many times before, and I wanted a surprise, but that’s just me. My friend (also lesbian) who went with me, who has danced in the past and so understands these things much better than me, really liked it.

The other dance piece was OK too. This was a group piece called Junknation by the Northwest Dance Syndrome, a group of six or seven women. I like the group dancing part and I liked the music. They had these cool canisters that looked like scuba tanks hanging from wires that they swung around a bit. I wanted them to do more with that, but they didn’t.

The part I didn’t like as much was these sort of interludes, where one woman was in an  “egg ” like wire structure. The first time is was full of trash, and we watched as she threw the trash out of the egg. Another time a woman writhed inside the egg for a bit. These parts went on too long for my taste. Boring. I always feel like I am supposed to  “get ” these bits, but I don’t. Call me simple, but I like it when the dancers just leap around on stage to good music.

The fourth piece was a music and multimedia performance by Holcombe Waller called Into the Dark Unknown: The Hope Chest, which I thought was really cool. It’s apparently part of a larger piece, so if that comes around I am definitely going to check it out, and I suggest you do too.

Anyway, there is another weekend of new works performances coming up, so check it out. Also this weekend I am going to see another of my teachers, Gin Hammond, at the Creation Project another new works festival.

Go check one of these great things out.
Reposted with permission.