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837 Venice Boulevard

There's a red curtain on the stage within a stage and Celia is in front of it. Her neck muscles don't work. In fact, her throat is the only thing that does. She spews unintelligence and she dangles there like the damaged puppet she is --- waggling her head and slumping and listlessly waving her spaghetti arms and being completely boring because she does all this for a lonnnnnnng while.

Welcome to the cracked sidewalks of 837 Venice Boulevard.

It's a new dance concert by Faye Driscoll, performed in Seattle by her company in August and atm here, at HERE, the cutting-edge theatre at 145 Sixth Ave in Manhattan.




That's Celia in the jacket sweater and she is about as light as it is. Her tall toothpick body is made out of aircraft cable and it is a perfect contrast to Nikki's shortness and thick Superheroine power, [rising from kneeling behind her], and Michael's. Her fingers are even longer than they look here.

This amazes me because at times it seems to me that you are watching one person in three virtual forms.

The show is named after Faye's CA address when she lived there growing up with her mother and sister. Now she operates out of Brooklyn and looks at her childhood as a parade of triumphs and disasters on the way to shaping her identity up to now. Mostly disasters.

Childhood is all about control. Mine was. Control by somebody else.

There's a poignant sequence where the two others chase / push Celia up a tree and then just walk off and leave her. The tree happened to be two feet from my right arm [front row of seats.]

Then, later, Celia turns into her own mother and spews out a torrent of sewer invective and racial slurring that withers brother, sister, and everyone in the theatre ... and then she morphs into one of her young-girl targets and shatters into bitter tears; on another level, it's her mother re-living the way she herself had been treated when she had been little. So, more shattering happens.




Here is the buildup to Celia's / Faye's big dance concert. Michael is bringing her out to be "choreographed"....the camera is adding twenty pounds to both of them. She is still a puppet totally manipulated by the others: they force her into all kinds of positions and hold her up as she goes onstage, whispering and commanding encouragement, and they move her arms and legs. Gradually she takes over her own dance: tentatively, then firmly. They resist that. Then they mold her into a yoga-statue pose, on one foot, her other leg up and bent, totally immobile and staring forward, and walk off, abandoning her again.

After a long silent time of standing there like the damaged puppet she has been ----

She slowly relaxes and slowly starts smiling, holds her head up, and flexes herself. Then she walks proudly off. Solid positive dancerlike steps. Strides, really.

Stunned silence from all of us.

Then great applause.

Subtext: how hard it is to be somebody you're expected to be, while you are trying to grow outward and upward.....

The set design is a simple kids' playspace lying open in front of the red curtains upstage --- where they play behind it, a series of little-kid-watching-the-audience-opening-the-curtain games with their faces, heads, and arms appearing and disappearing; side drapes are hiding a designed kitchen and living room --- both of which are offstage behind curtains that briefly part: the kitchen is where Celia runs to grab a knife before the others can catch her and take the knife away and bring her back to puppet status.

This all evolved into one of the most terrifying and hopeful evenings I have had in the theatre.

Ever.

Playgoing. And including playmaking lighting design, too.

I suddenly remembered why I loved treeclimbing so much as a kid. Hadn't thought about that for a long time, if ever. I hoped nobody would ever come for me. Didn't want to come down into danger. It was safe up there ....

Faye's idea is to have each one of us project her and his own childhood onto what you are seeing. "An unknown place of uncomfortability which gets you to examine your own personal perceptions."

Probably none of my Flist friends is close enough to HERE to get to this, other than Nevers. Who is also a dancer out of Brooklyn. And it closes on November 22. Now. at Here. :)

It closes but it does not close. Of course.

Watch for more from Faye. There will be a whole lot......

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