This year Josh and I are volunteers, which means getting to see shows that we couldn't otherwise afford to. So here is a little update on the first few I've seen.
The Show Must Go On
I attended the invited dress rehearsal for this one, so perhaps my audience, even more than others, didn't know what to expect or do. That audience, as far as I understand, was made up of PuSh volunteers, workers from JJ Bean, and some people from the East Hasting community.
I personally loved this show. It won't be for everyone and I fully admit to spending the first three songs or so sitting there wondering if I just wasn't artsy enough to get it. I hadn't read up on it at all before seeing it and had taken my sister in law with me, who was expecting some 'normal' theatre play.
This show played with the line between who was the audience and who was being watched...or observed at least. It also felt like it had an underlying theme along the lines of arts in the lives of every average person, and perhaps what the removal of it means. The 'performers' didn't even appear on stage until, I think, the 4th song. There were a couple rowdies in that audience, including a woman in the front row who I'm pretty sure was drunk. With the lack of people on stage, she started to rush the stage herself, thinking perhaps at that point that she was to be the show, and got half way there before the cast came out themselves.
The show was filled with many moments that I hope I never forget the images of. There were so many hysterical things, but many of them were so enjoyable because it seemed not to be done to get a laugh but just the person being their beautiful unique selves. The amount of focus necessary to do that, even with the strong variable of audience interaction, was impressive. I would love to do something like that.
Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar
This was the show that compelled me to volunteer for the PuSh because I felt that I HAD to see this, but could not afford the ticket price. I know that I love extreme stylized stuff like this. I adored The Black Rider that was in PuSh a few years back and was heartbroken to have missed Frankenstein from last year, so I could not miss this one.
While I really enjoyed this show in so many ways, it was just a little short of what I'd set myself up hoping for (I know: my fault.) I did indeed love the stylized take on this story and found it to be a fascinating exploration in so many areas, but in many ways felt that it came just shy of amazing.
There seemed to be a strong sense, evidenced in many elements of the show, to create the feeling that Edgar's story was entirely propelled by fate, and not his own choices. From the puppet-like choreography, to the consistent and unrelenting rhythm in the music, to the whole of his life being narrated to Edgar as he reacts to the telling of it, it never feels like something he had the control over.
The music was interesting at first, but there were only a couple really strong ones that stuck with me, often feeling too familiar and over-repetative in other areas. The idea behind the, in terms of the constant beat served to add to the feeling of being swept up by fate and out of control, as did the fact that it was sung by the narrators, but this created compromises to other aspects of the work.
The choreography created beautiful pictures, but was also repetitive and didn't serve the story, only the style, with the exception of Edgar's puppeted mannerisms.
Poetics: A Ballet Brut
Poetics: A Ballet Brut
This show was very interesting, but I couldn't help but compare it with The Show Must Go On as it had a number of similarities when it comes down to it, and Poetics felt like the weaker sibling. Where it differed, it seams, was in the interesting way it was created: chance. In the talkback after the show I watched the creators described how they chose numbers of time, space, and gestures according to their divisibility by 6, in order to roll a die to decide the order of any number of things. Even the performers, of which there were 4, were given each of their roles at any given moment by spinning a dradle to decide. The main influence for this being John Cage, it was of particular interest to Josh, because he comes from the music side of things and because he did a music composition project in school using the exact same technique of change of the die.
I have still yet to see Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut. Looking forward to it.