The first five minutes of Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike starts off deceptively boring. Then, in the tranquil quiet of a living room full of wicker chairs, quilted throws and mismatched socks, Sonia hurls a white ceramic coffee mug to the ground in a fit of wild unhappiness. It’s loud, physical and absurd—much like the rest of the play.
Using voice distortion, audio loops and images of dancing crotches, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs grabbed my attention during her poetry performance at the Walker Art Center. The author of four chapbooks and one album, Diggs is a poet/writer, sound artist, vocalist, and performer. Before I sat in her audience, I didn’t know what to expect, and even now, I’m not sure how to describe the experience.Diggs warmed up the audience by reading some poetry over a loop of her own lip trills. The sound was comforting, like a nice soup base. It highlighted her words as she read them through an audio distortion device that createed an echo to each syllable. Continue Reading
A long, thick piece of brown rope plays a pivotal role in Peter and the Starcatcher. So pivotal, it should be listed as a cast member. Throughout the performance, the set and stage direction encourage the audience to extend their imaginations as the rope transforms from scene to scene. At first, it’s just rope on the deck of a ship, but as the audience becomes more invested in the show’s fantastical world, the rope changes into the outline of a staircase, a prison cell, the frame of a mirror, waves on a stormy night, and the perimeter of a boxing ring. With minimal props, directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers demonstrate how creative thinking goes a long way in theatrical storytelling.It also helps to have a cast so invested in the physical demands of their roles. Continue Reading