Wednesday, April 10, 2013

REVIEW: REDCAT Spring Studio

On March 30 and 31, REDCAT presented their Spring Studio, part of their quarterly series that "give[s] new artists an opportunity to hone their skills and offer[s] established artists a chance to test new material and works-in-progress before an audience."

Federico Llach's 11 Points started the program, performed by the Now Hear Ensemble. The quintet played a set of evolving musical cells, following the rhythm of a live ping pong game taking place downstage from the group. It was a compelling take on the role of the modern conductor, as well as the aesthetics of post-minimal music. The pendulum sway of the pulse was hypnotic, adding surprisingly expressive tempo fluxuations. The audience obviously felt the drama of ping-pong spectatorship, cheering and laughing through the piece. My favorite part was whenever someone scored, and the band stopped playing. At that point, their musical phrases were lended cadential variation by the ball bouncing away in the otherwise silent space.

This was followed by Kinetic Makeover, by Milka Djordjevich. Starting her solo piece facing away from the audience, Djordjevich stood completely still. She gradually introduced a pendulum-like kinetic motion that was morphed into various physical manifestations, including hip swaying, sliding on the floor, hopping, clapping, and full body gesticulation.

Alan Nakagawa's Organ of Corti was next. For this piece, the ushers handed out ear plugs and balloons. The audience members were asked to blow up their respective balloon and hold it in their palms (the earplugs went in their ears...). Nakagawa played an array of electronic instruments and gadgets, accompanying a projected video. If your balloon was blown up enough, you could feel the vibrations from the music in your balloon, making it a tactile as well as an aural experience. For me, this worked best with lower frequencies.

After intermission, Wilderness presented Leaves of Grass. This piece centered around a couple's seemingly idyllic relationship. A video of slow moving clouds played above a square of astroturf as the two performers lay in the grass and gazed at the sky. Snippets of pre-recorded conversation played, offering a glimpse into their inner world. While development in this piece was especially nuanced, it was possible to interpret it as an aesthetically pleasant distillation of static theater.

Justin Streichman's The Conduit was a neat series of solo theatrical vignettes. Of the influences claimed in the program, the one I could detect the strongest was Andy Kaufman. From the meta-narrative of the opening to the shining house lights at the end, Kaufman's influence was felt.

Mecca Vazie Andrews finished the program with Sandra Dee De E. The piece was book-ended by ensemble dances with music by Suicide and Liars, which is a good place to start. However, the strongest part of the piece was in the middle, with Andrews' spoken performance. I wanted to hear more.

Applications for REDCAT's summer studio are due this Friday, April 12.

No comments: