More Under The Radar

We spent the day yesterday at The Public, checking out as much of the Under the Radar stuff as possible. It has been a lot of fun. It is also great to hang out in the lobby and chat with people, artists and presenters from all over, to hear the wide range of reactions to the work.

We started off yesterday with Superamas’ Big 2nd Episode (show/business) which was a slick, sleek and entertaining riff on commercialism, consumerism and pop culture. It was the first time I had seen a theatrical performance in which the film Zoolander was a central dramaturgical element.

After that I saw Tim Crouch’s My Arm which was an interesting solo performance. Crouch is subdued in his delivery with a dry sense of humor. The piece starts out appearing to be an autobiographical one-man show and slowly unspools into a disturbing fiction. The story is of a man who, at the age of 10, decides to hold his arm above his head. He holds it there for the rest of his life, becomes the object of several artists’ work, becomes something of an oddity and intellectual curio as his health deteriorates.

Then we took a break and returned for William Yang’s Shadows, which was an autobiographical solo show with slides and music. Yang is an artist and photographer who shares his travels around the world, weaving together a number of stories. He explores the ideas or racism, persecution, cultural difference and reconciliation through tales of his relationship with an Aboriginal Australian family, a gay German artist whose father was a Nazi, and the story of the Australian internment of its German citizens during World Wars I and II. Yang’s delivery is slow and measured and the music by Colin Offord offers a beautiful and haunting counterpoint to the narrative. It is not as stylistically adventurous as many of the other pieces but Yang tells an interesting story.

Then a break for dinner and back to see Cia dos Atores’ Rehearsal.Hamlet. I would try and describe it, but I don’t think I can much better than the promo copy: “An explosive retelling of the Shakespearean masterpiece as seen through the wildly inventive and cracked lens of one of Rio de Janeiro’s most highly regarded theater groups, Cia dos Atores, in which humor and Brazilian-ness provide a bold, contemporary aesthetic mix.” – That pretty much sums it up. It was late and we were tired from seeing shows all day but we enjoyed the humor and the inventive staging tricks. Sometimes it seems that Hamlet has been pretty well-mined at this point, but Cia dos Atores found some new ways to get into the text and break it open.

Well, we’re off back into the fray…

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