Saturday, July 14, 2007

Experimental Theater Exposure at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery

Last night, I figured the perfect Friday the 13th outing was to take in some seriously experimental theater at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. Presented by Company So Go No in association with the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator, the innovative and massively unsettling play Art of Memory was in no way, shape or form your typical New York City theatrical experience.

This examination of creativity, fairytale horror and the written word combines dance, sound and narration to trance-like effect. While three librarians prance around a twisted labyrinth of books (wonderfully realized by set designer Sean Breault), tales inspired by Jorge Luis Borges, the Bronte Sisters and Brothers Grimm illuminate victimization, the desire to create permanence through literature, and the struggle to construct memory that is unoppressive yet authentic.

The overlay of narration by Lisa Ramirez, who also created or adapted much of the text, serves as a grounding force as the audience is led through fairy tales both sinister and forlorn. Her performance is riveting, stylized and wryly humorous and well balances the precise movement work of Heather Harpham, Cassie Terman and Tanya Calamoneri. And just the right dollop of musical order is provided by sound designer Miguel Frasconi.

Bonus: Finally stepping foot in the legendary St. Marks, home of The Poetry Project where Ginsberg, Shepard, Cage, Ashbery and numerous other influential writers have performed groundbreaking readings. Also seeing Lisa Ramirez on stage again. Whatever she is in, especially if she has had a hand in the writing, is a must-see!

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