|Photo by Quinn Batson|
And We Mean That
Thank You for Coming connects at Danspace
By QUINN BATSON
We humans are a funny bunch. Faye Driscoll sees this better than most and puts it on stage. Though glimmers of darkness and violence flit through here and there, Thank You for Coming: Attendance is a smilefest that involves and engages the audience.
Five extraordinary performers Giulia Carotenuto, Sean Donovan, Alicia Ohs, Brandon Washington and Nikki Zialcita do the heavy lifting, but a helping subcast (Driscoll included) buzzes around distributing props and audience members throughout the piece.
|FAYE DRISCOLL: THANK YOU FOR COMING|
|Choreography by: Faye Driscoll.|
Dancers: Giulia Carotenuto, Sean Donovan, Alicia Ohs, Brandon Washington, Nikki Zialcita.
Sound design by: Michael Kiley.
Set design by: Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin.
Lighting design by: Amanda K. Ringger.
March 6-8, 11, 13-15, 2014
Taking full advantage of the church setting of Danspace, the Driscoll choir sings us a welcome from the balcony, including emergency procedures, then forms a processional line to enter the sanctuary and ascend the raised dais at its center, creating a living tableau that slowly begins to disintegrate and morph into an unholy cabal of carnal excess. From the faces of audience members, this is either horrifying or hilarious. The fact that all five stay physically connected through almost the entire process lends itself to the latter.
Like the group on it, the dais slowly disintegrates from within, with some clever help, until it is nothing but a collection of modular audience seating. Meanwhile, almost invisibly, the cast has changed clothes and become a stop-motion animation movie that loops repeatedly. There is a high-school silliness to the misplaced affections and overwrought reactions that this stop-motion enhances.
|Photo by Quinn Batson|
|L-R: Nikki Zialcita, Giulia Carotenuto, Alicia Ohs, Sean Donovan, Brandon Washington|
It only becomes apparent halfway through the movie, if at all, that "Attendance" from the title is being "taken", as in school, from the moment we walk in and is being "called" by sound designer Michael Kiley, while the quintet on stage singsong-echo it back in random bits, like inside jokes without disrupting the movie.
Tiny emergencies pop up in stop-motion until this too blows up and a new form of organized chaos erupts in real time. Though it goes unnoticed during this lively, strange, raucous performance as it should there is so much craft involved in every level of Thank You. Every apparently casual interaction between cast and audience has a purpose, both logistically and, on a deeper and friendlier level, to get the audience involved.
By the time the writhing snakes of fabric in the middle of the floor yet another visible/invisible major transformation have shed their skin to form a ring of revelers under a Mayfest canopy, and audience members are entering and leaving the ring as part of the performance, our heads, like the people onstage, swirl in happiness and relief.
|MARCH 9, 2014|
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