"The Known Center of the Universe" - happens at a Downtown space known as Black C Art. Within these walls, multilayered collaborative performance art with rich introspective provocative storytelling is a constant. Productions here can be scripted, non-scripted, improvised, there is flexible seating from one show to the next. In this black box interior, we see dance & movement, and our Director and cast invite reaction during post show opportunities to engage the audience in conversation.
The current show is called Journal Entry and directed by Lauren Warhol Caldwell, features Ani Collier and Sara Morsey. From the playbill: "A woman has kept a personal journal. However, in looking back, her entries cause her pain, unwanted memories, and difficult reminders. The journal ends up in the hands of another woman who understands the entries all too well. And this is where the journey begins."
Of course it is the journey of both characters (as well as the audience's journey) as they engage each other through movement and dialogue, offering in equal measure conflict, support, and transformation. I say we are shown layers because the artists are working from structured original collaborative source material. Certainly, there is plotting and a through-line to the choreography. Yet, the piece breathes with moments of spontaneous improvisation between the characters, keeping us and them excited for surprises as we find ourselves rapt with attention and suspense. What happens next!?
Upon entering the space, the players are already on the stage. Ani lies prone on a pink fleece fabric which at times presents like a magic carpet, other times like the sea or wind depending on how it's utilized in motion. Sara, downstage right, leans against a wall in repose, in thought. We enter cautiously, carefully, to take our seats. The characters are, to this reviewer's eye, disconnected to begin with. That is, until Ani and Sara awaken to each other and the Journal is shared.
Within the journal are thoughts and messages, secret and revealing. In response, Sara's character offers her interpretation as she digs in to articulate the passages, some in narrative prose and others in the poetry of Sandra Belfiore, Khalil Gibran, and Charles Bukowski. She questions, beckons, advises, challenges, and discovers. Before too long, that which is fearful becomes welcoming. "Don't be afraid to dive in, we were born swimming." Conversely, certain comforts become unwelcome. Are we so safe as to be imprisoned?
From the playbill:
Tell me who you are,
and what brings you here.
What piece of driftwood do you cling to,
bobbing on the swells, and
How do you imagine the raft or boat
you hope will rescue you someday?
I repeat, this play is in layers. The playbill itself is a journal entry of sorts. Within the playbill we are prompted with questions: "What lies in the journal? Who is this woman who ends up with the secrets written upon the pages? What leads them to a reconciliation of the content of the journal?" For me, I was struck with the notion that one is a protagonist and the other is her conscience; the two that are one. These roles are interchangeable. Someone else will find a different meaning in the abstractions offered. They may see mother/daughter, patient/doctor, perhaps it is the journal contemplating itself. All this is the very point. We see their story and leave with our own.
The lighting, designed by Bob Robbins, is a character in itself, filling the room with amber and fuchsia mood, temperature, liquid, sky and land, suggesting the passing of time, the turning daydreams into shadows and back again--an emotional dream-time.
Sound Design by Caldwell feels haunted somewhere in the 1980s, with choices hearkening to both past and future as well; often surprising with jolting disturbance or conversely, sanguine comfort; sometimes mirroring and other times in juxtaposition with the characters.
For the show I saw, the technical operations for both light and sound were covertly and expertly employed by Stage Manager, Paul Gabbard. Amanda Nipper was the technical engineer for Warhol's excellent music and sound design.
Warhol, Morsey, and Collier are of the highest caliber in their respective fields, absolutely riddled with talent and passion. The urgency of Caldwell's storytelling and direction, the commitment of Sara in her acting and voice, and Collier's fierce creativity and athleticism with her powerful dance and movement; all bringing to the stage enormous risk, trust, and empathy transmitting this challenging work to the stage. Both the experiment and the control are present, prescient, palpable and alive. Theatre in motion.
One more thing...
On stage, there is also a box, about the size of a treasure box, covered in that same pink inviting fleece material. The journey of the play, of the characters, and of the audience--it all leads to this mysterious container. If the reader wonders what's in the box, there's one sure way to find out. Maybe it's you in there. Dive in.
will you listen
when I invite you,
Dive in, and sink.
You will not drown
You were born
GET TICKETS HERE: www.eventbrite.com/e/journal-entry-tickets-199401895437
JOURNAL ENTRY - SHOW DATES/TIMES
Thursday December 9th, 5:30pm-6:30pm
and Saturday December 11th, 2:00pm to 3:00pm
MORE AT BLACK C GALLERY: www.blackcproduction.com/
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Production: Michael Eaddy, Ramon J. Otero
Video: Broni Veltcheva
Art & Graphic Design: Liliana Dvorianova
Directed by Lauren Warhol Caldwell
Conceived by Ani Collier, Sara Morsey, Lauren Warhol Caldwell