Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Connected: An Interactive Experience was sold out. Aradhana Tiwari directed the show, and Holly Harris was the choreographer. I had a ticket but unfortunately didn't have one for Terry. Jimmy Moore decided I could start sketching the space early so long as I used my artists stool. I picked a seat in the second row and saved a seat for Terry. All the seats in the theater had been set up with audio ear buds. This was a huge undertaking to set up in the 15 minutes or so before the house opened. Wired had to be duck taped to the floor and each audio connection tested. Terry and I were going to share a set of ear buds. The cast circled up in the center of the black box theater. Cole NeSmith said, "We are asking the audience to take chances, and I hope we all step up to take those chances with them." He climbed into a three foot square box and he shouted to me, "Don't look Thomas!" The stage manager shouted, "One minute to house open!" People shouted back, "Thank you one!"
The audience rushed in, and sure enough every seat was taken. An announcer or guide, addressed everyone asking them to raise their hands if they could hear him. Everyone raised their hands, but I was sketching, my hands were busy. The show began with an isolated spotlight on the box, center stage. A light emanated from a hole at the top of the box. Two dancers circled and interacted with the mysterious box and then Cole, as Jacob was pulled out. Jacob's mouth was taped shut and he wore sunglasses and earphones. Jacob was shut himself off emotionally from the world around him. As he faced moments from his past that caused him to isolate himself, he was awakened to deeper levels of intimacy in his current reality. The Guide invited each audience member on a unique, introspective journey into their own past. This illuminating process of discovery welcomed the audience into introspective and interactive moments that were risky, challenging, humorous and healing.
Jacob was in several scenes in which his hurtful past was dredged up. He was usually focused on some small undefined task as others argued and interacted around him. His mom berated him constantly. The small boy was meek and introspective but the elder Jacob shouted, "NO! Stop!" Everyone in the audience had been given point lights. They were asked to illuminate the light if someone had said hurtful things that forever stayed with them. The room was aglow with point lights. Terry shifted and my ear bud fell out. As I fumbled it back in my ear, the guide said, "See you are not alone, we all face the same fears and challenges." Dancers walked on diagonals occasionally freezing in their hectic life as Jacob studied them. Audience members were invited to pose on pedestals along with Jacob. Long colorful paper ribbons were handed out to the audience and they were unfurled from person to person. A black light illuminated the ribbons and they glowed brightly in the dark room as dancers pulled them back in. Like Jacob, I was focused on a task. Sketching in the darkened theater was a challenge. With my earpiece constantly popping out, I gave up on it and sketched furiously. Without the guide, I was observing but very much isolated from the emotional involvement of the show. The performance rushed by and I struggled in the dark to catch a moment.