In the 1980's I was a performance artist in New York City. I spent a week's grocery money to see the opening of the Philip Glass piece, The Photographer at BAM. I also saw Pina Bausch and Sankai Juku condemning myself to eating out of dumpsters in order to see art that changed the game. I went to 24 hour long renditions of sections of Kei Takei's Light. I learned that art doesn't just hang on walls and theater doesn't have to tell a linear story. And I went to class many a weekday at the studio of Alwin Nikolais, the man who taught me that the people are not always the most important thing on the stage. He also taught me the sheer power of simple theater magic.
I moved to Chicago and began to experiment. I was a live art object late at night at nightclubs and in gardens. I created performance pieces that threw out most conventions of the theatrical relationship between audience and performer---there were no tickets, no seats, no programs, there were planned and unplanned audience members and occurences. Chance was one of our performers. Once we almost got arrested.
Then I got married, needed health insurance, and semi retired from experimenting. But last weekend, I went back, or should I say forward. At the last minute, I got tickets for Fuerza Bruta opening at the auditorium theater. The show was not on my radar. My life could have gone on much as it had before without it. But I did go. And it awakened in me the artist that has long been sleeping.
The show is clearly South American with an aesthetic and image base drawn from a cultural that has survived totalitarian regimes and the paranoia that brings with as baggage. The recurring image of the man running, running, running on the treadmill resonated deeply within me, especially when a wall shot out and slammed into him.
This kind of work does not have easy or easily verbalized meanings--it intersects with the image bank in your own brain, and your life, and evokes meanings that are not easy to speak. Trying to describe it to my husband I was reduced to Blue Man Group meets the ol Limelight at Cirque du Soleil and they travel to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Only he knows what I was blabbering about.
There is a scene where furniture, a sidewalk cafe, appears on the treadmill. The treadmill stops briefly and then starts up and the main character desperately attempts to hold the cafe in place but it dissolves in ever more painful ways.
Sooner or later others join him, on the treadmill for a while then literally falling off the edge. So many times my life is just like that.
I will not spoil the end, the stunning visual image. Everyone talks about the giant slip and slide over head, but for me, the primal dance on the ocean of mylar was more poignant and memorable.
Don't miss this show. And stay tuned for my next one.