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 seven 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. That can create an eerie juxtaposition of what is communicated and what is not.
Marting's latest piece, The Women of Orleans, combines material from numerous sources, including Kate Chopin's novel "The Awakening," "The Grandissimes" by George Washington Cable, newspaper accounts from the period, folk tales, and a biography of The Baroness de Portalba. From that literary stew Marting tells the stories of four women of various races and the men who become obsessed with them. Through the piece, Marting examines matters of race, gender, and class in New Orleans shortly after The Civil War, giving contemporary audiences a view into the volatile blend of white, black, French, Spanish, Cajun, and Creole.
The cast features: Gretchen Krich, Kevin Berger, Andre Canty, Todd Griffin, Leslie Jones, Rachel Deslie, Mari Newhard, and Richard Toth. The musical score is composed by Mattew Pierce (a frequent collaborator with Marting), costume design is by Mattie Ulrich, with scenic and lighting design by Allen Hahn.
Previous Marting productions include: Mad Shadows, The Courtesan, Ruth Margraff's Locket Arias, Heart Piece, and The Tango Project.
Kristin Marting's The Women of Orleans plays at HERE Nov. 7-Dec. 20. For reservations or more information call (212) 647-0202.
-- By Sean McGrath