Thursday, May 17, 2007

At the Word of Mouth Festival

I really wish I hadn't been sick all weekend long, as I'd have loved to spread word about this great site-specific festival sooner, but although it's gone, you should at least know that the World Financial Center occasionally puts up some great projects. The two that I attended were Bird Eye Blue Print and Girls Just Wanna Have Fund$.

Those who follow my writing understand that I have something of a crush on Lisa D'Amour's work, especially when she's working with director Katie Pearl. But I'll be objective when I say that Bird Eye Blue Print was a thrill. I promised not to review it so that I could attend as a guest, but the combination of eccentric tour-guides, a mysterious (and abandoned) office to explore, and the total freedom of the whole evening was fantastic. We were all told that there was one door that was never opened; as all the guests were leaving and given free reign of the facility, I felt like Charlie in the chocolate factory and I couldn't resist in peeking into that unseen room. Such unabashed thrills are almost criminal, but I've no regrets.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fund$, the Women's Project's anthology of five small moralistic plays, was also a blast. An overarching story about a missing "dime" sends a tour group from one end of the World Financial Center to the other, giving each play the opportunity to use the space in a different fashion. "The Dime Show" was silent vaudeville along a long corridor whereas "A Peddler's Tale: Buttons, Guts and Bluetooth" had the audience watching the action revolve from the first floor all the way up to our perch on the second. "Remembrance," my personal favorite, featured two young African-American women chasing each other up and down a single set of escalators. One was ghetto, the other successful: what stood out was how at the end of the play, they switched costumes and repeated the performance. How's that for a statement on status? Most amusing of all were the reactions of innocent bystanders (there's no such thing!), though I was saddened by how busy they all appeared to be: only one person actually stopped to watch one of the performances.

Site-specific, environmental theater. New York lends itself to such tourist-friendly activities, and it's my hope that the lower cost of doing outdoors or guerrilla work will help contribute toward getting some outstanding new works produced new year in this medium.

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