Monday, June 17, 2013
Hyper-Bolic, written and performed by Jessica Earley, was staged at the Venue on Virginia Avenue before Fringe. This show was raw and intensely personal, being all about Jessica's break up with a boyfriend. Lindsay Smith and Stephanie Lister helped Jessica throughout the production. This performance was for one night only and the Venue was packed. The performance combined puppetry, dance and some forms of performance that defy definition. The show was build around the five stages of grief. I knew Jessica from her paintings which often expose women's issues. When she spoke of her work in the past, she was always soft spoken yet sincere.
Things began quietly enough with a short shadow puppet show that presented love in it's ideal form, lasting forever and surmounting mountains and streams. I sketched Jessica as she held a deer puppet as she said, "Oh Dear!" The stage was covered in white blankets and Jessica was covered in a white robe appearing like an ancient shaman. She sang to a small horse puppet that questioned her singing abilities. On this lonely landscape she masturbated with a huge sewing needle and held a conversation with a button which someone later told me was a symbol for the vagina.
Jessica stood on a table and imitated the poses of ideal couples who hugged and expressed love in idealized advertising images. The images flickered by at an increasing pace and she struggles to keep up. She used a cardboard laptop to try and reach out via social media which offered empty meaningless comfort from well meaning friends, leaving her lonelier than before.
A large dream catcher was assembled and Jessica became entwined in it and struggled to break free as if caught in a spider's web. Things truly became raw when Jessica called on a few friends to come on stage and join her in a ritual of healing. They each placed their hands on her as she raised her arms and shouted to the sky, "Heal me!" I noticed one of her friends had tears in her eyes as she participated in the ritual. Jack Fields who was seated at my table was called up and he told me later that he didn't realize he would become part of the act, but having participated he felt even more involved in the act of recovery.
Jessica was able to catch lightning in a bottle. Everyone has experienced the heartbreak of relationships which don't stand the test of time, and Jessica had found a way to express the torment and agony. I knew that Jessica had started modeling at Full Sail and it made sense that this exposure offered a form of personal acceptance. At the end of the show she stood before the audience naked as her hands laced through words of redemption and recovery. I truly hope that she expands on the show and hopefully brings it to next years Fringe. She has hit a raw and fragile nerve. I had witnessed a performance that was truly trans-formative. How amazing to see an artist hit fill stride, finding new and creative ways to express herself. I felt honored to have been present.