NW New Works | Studio, Week 2 May 17, 2008

by Tania Kupczak

After this evenings performance I was thinking about how refreshing it was to see performances in an intimate setting, such as the OTB studio provides. I felt close to the performances and engaged with what was being presented. Having seen quite a few performances in the studio space, and certainly not always having had this same response, I realized that my reaction had a lot to do with the performances themselves. With the opening number, for instance John and Anna Dixon's Now Playing: The interactive misadventures of GOAT and subgroup 33 the audience helps in guiding the performance. (Just look in the your program and you will find that You are listed under Additional Direction.) Beyond the direct audience interaction, which is a built-in structure to the work, the piece features two of the Seattle dance community's most open and generous performers. Even when John and Anna are not directly speaking to the audience, you have the sense that they are engaging and connecting with you. Although the performers and creators of Ropes Course, Juliet Waller Pruzan and Stephen Hando, are performing in a world far away from the theater in which we sit, a world they do not leave in order to talk to us, we are right there with them. Their quirky tale of two seemingly mundane office workers who have embarked on an unlikely adventure out to sea, is replete with engaging dialogue, humor and dance. Even though Ropes Course follows a fairly traditional storyline structure, the characters situation and reality a blend of the mundane and something more abstract and even magical leaves us guessing at what comes next. I watched eagerly as Pruzan and Hando's playlet unfolded in front of me. The creative props, set design and costume, and some surprising turns in the story, serve to hook us more. Waxie Moon, on the other hand, Marc Kenison's Extreme Boylesque, exists because of us. Waxie needs us, She needs her audience as much as she needs food and oxygen. Without us, without being seen, she will no longer be a waxing moon but a waning one. Waxie is extreme, and that is what we like most about her. Or is it a him, or a herm (a term that Waxie her/himself uses)? Although Waxie speaks directly to the audience, she does not expect a verbal response from usthat would be out of character. Waxie is to be listened to. She wants our undivided attention, which she has (and she knows it.) Hoops and hollers at the appropriate moments are, however, welcomed. Although the four pieces comprising this weekends studio series, each explore different topics/concepts and styles, they fit together in a pleasing and palpable way, making the evening very easy to swallow. And, what a tasty bite it was! The unique humor that each piece brings undoubtedly helps tie the evening together, as well as, the consistently strong dance seen throughout, an important element in each of the works. (By the way, great job on the curation!) If you are reading this blog entry because you are debating whether to come to the studio show, I say come! Yes, it is sunny and warm for the first time this year, but, you know, it will be sunny again very soon, but there wont be another Northwest New Works until next year and, well, that is a very long time to wait. It is true that sun exposure helps boost our body's vitamin D levels, but undoubtedly this studio show will flood your body with healthy, pleasure chemicals, released by your very own endocrine system, and will consequently reduce stress in your life, which may result in a longer life and all because of this show! - Liz Erber