Playbill On-Line welcomes Sean McGrath's new column on New York's Off-Off-Broadway scene.
With her strict attention to movement and gesture, downtown director Kristin Marting builds on the work of avant-garde luminaries Robert Wilson and Pina Bausch.
For the past six years, Marting has been laboriously at work creating what she calls her "gesture vocabulary". In creating this vocabulary, Marting has been carefully documenting the effects of how certain postures and movements communicate to an audience.
Her attention to physical movement is not without precedence though, much of Pre-Stanislavsky theatre (e.g. Delsarte) relied on stock movements which communicated specific emotions of the characters. Marting made her start studying those old yellowed texts, and then developing a way to make this style relevant to contemporary theatre-goers.
When tackling a text, the emotional subtext of the characters is given physical manifestation. At times, the gestures remain in sync with the emotion the characters are portraying but, often the opposite is true- often creating an eerie juxtaposition of what is communicated and what is not. Marting adapted her latest piece, Mad Shadows, from Marie-Claire Blais' 1959 novel of the same name. The story is simplistic -- Louise dotes on her beautiful yet dull son, Patrice and virtually ignores her plain-faced daughter, Isabelle-Marie. Things get more complex when Louise gets re-married and both children are now bereft of their mother's attention.
The cast features: Gretchen Krich, Joshua Taylor, Susan Hightower, Jason Phelps, and Mark Gerow. The musical score is composed by Mattew Pierce, scenic design is by David Zinn, lighting design is by Christine Methot, and costume design is by Nancy Brous.
Mad Shadows is now playing at HERE, the Obie Award-winning theatre that Marting co-founded. The show runs Wed.-Sun. at 8 PM through Nov. 8. For reservations call (212) 647-0202.
-- By Sean McGrath