NWNW = eclecticism itself. Jun 17, 2007

by Bret

David Schmader's Litter is the most straightforward piece of the evening, though it is only the beginning of a longer piece. This autobiographical monologue starts with allusions to some horrible humiliation, takes a moment to analyze Allison Janney's ability to fall, then settles into a storytelling groove as David describes his early adolescence in El Paso, where he suppressed everything about himself that could reveal that he's gay, until he reaches a truly sad state. Schmader's smart but unassuming wit is in fine form; the only problem is that this is just the beginning, so we don't get to see how humiliation, Allison Janney, and West Texas homosexual awakenings come together. I look forward to the full piece. Selfick Ng-Simancas' Moonfeatures large, leaf-shaped metal plates, vaguely Celtic or Native-American headpieces featuring antelope horns, and a disappointingly basic dance vocabulary, capably executed but unimaginative. The net effect is of a children's pageant set to acid jazz. Tentative and flimsy. In contrast, Kerry Parker's choreography in Persephone's Descent is also simple (though physically demanding), but expressive and embodied. Parker seems to fully inhabit every muscle in her body, whether she's on toe, standing on her head, or writhing across the floor. Kevin Kovalchik's music is similarly minimal but giving loving care and devotion. The choreography seems weak when a second dancer appears, technically precise but lacking Parker's vivid presence; this is very much a triumph of performance. Finally, SuttonBeresCuller's Ten to Six seems to be a live Pop Art collage, the story of an old fart who dreams of how his life was crushed by his soul-sucking job, a femme fatale, and the demands of family, all gussied up with absurdist images, like a Lincon-themed bar where a band (played by the members of "Awesome") plays the Cantina theme from Star Wars (one member dressed like a heavy metal stud, another like Jimmy Buffet with a beret, another like a Vietnam Vet, etc.). The story is cliche, but that doesn't seem to be the point -- in fact, there's a kind of post-ironic sincerity. The dream framework doesn't allow anything to have any emotional weight. If this is a collage, the images, though seemingly random, should resonate off each other like notes in a song; but if, for example, the red octopus sitting at the bar had any relationship to any other element, it was lost on me -- I experienced neither harmony nor dischord. (Kudos, however, to Matt Richter's frothing boss and the giant baby heads, which were joltingly grotesque.) It may simply be a difference of humor -- the non-sequiturs either strike you as funny or they don't. The sheer accumulation of elements is a feat of sorts, though if the impressively detailed bar set was created specifically for this piece...well, it seems a lot of effort for very little point. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, but if you told me the whole thing was thrown together in a week to meet a deadline, I wouldn't be surprised. -- Bret Fetzer