Thinking about Gertrude Stein under a full moon…

She was gay exactly the same way. She was never tired of being gay that way. She had learned very many little ways to use in being gay. Very many were telling about using other ways in being gay. She was gay enough, she was always gay exactly the same way, she was always learning little things to use in being gay, she was telling about using other ways in being gay, she was telling about learning other ways in being gay, she was learning other ways in being gay, she would be using other ways in being gay, she would always be gay in the same way, when Georgine Skeene was there not so long each day as when Georgine Skeene was away.

Tonight, under a fullish moon, I chanted the words above with the rest of the audience in the (newly furnished!) Bushwick Starr. Target Margin’s Stein Lab has two days left for you to catch two aggressively creative and successfully focused stagings of Gertrude Stein’s writing, a display that come around far less frequently than the full moon.

Clayton Dean Smith (photo by Erik Carter)

Clayton Dean Smith (photo by Erik Carter)

STEIN-DRAG, Lead Artist: Aaron Ethan Green

Drag shows, historically, have upset me. I sometimes feel like women are being made fun of rather than celebrated. I feel protective of my fleshly parts blown up on the stage in front of me, glittering and glamorous. Tonight I felt nothing but awe and respect. The performers skill and ease convinced me that the text of Stein’s (frankly insane) letters to her lover, Alice B. Toklas, could not be communicated by anyone who is not a drag queen. She is my sweet, my heat, my little treat, my precious. I could hear the words brilliantly amidst pink polka dots, silver tinsel, magenta wigs and canary yellow power dusting angular jaw lines. They had my attention. I believed it. (And I smelled it.)

Kristin Jackson, Paige Snell, Nikki Calonge and Eva Peskin (Photo by Erik Carter)

Kristin Jackson, Paige Snell, Nikki Calonge and Eva Peskin (Photo by Erik Carter)

SHE COUNTS HER DRESSES, Lead Artist: Nikki Calonge

I found my gaze glued to Nikki Calonge’s Julia Roberts mouth as she nimbly guided us through a dense chunk of text that basically says the same thing over and over, in every iteration possible. The essence is: being gay, being gay regularly, and regularly being gay. The flexibility of this singular message folded in and out of itself and somehow never got old. While STEIN-DRAG was sexual, Calonge’s piece is sensual, with four women on stage singing, dancing, relating to themselves and to each other in seamless then shocking transitions.

Target Margin throws a significant gauntlet in inviting their artists to stage and interpret Gertrude Stein’s text. Both the artists presented this weekend more than rise to the challenge. Get your tickets!

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