Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tell Tales

by Thomas Connelly

So on a beautiful full moon night, one of those nights when the stars hide away and the moon swollen and full makes the world glow silver; I drove into town to see Tell Tails, a new performance piece by Bridget Bridget Nicklason-King.

The sort of night that is the power of the woman.

Tell Tails was a show inspired by Bridget’s granny. One can imagine the performer as a child listening intently as her grandmother told wild stories of adventure, danger and love. All completely true…and then some.

Old, old, ancient the stage is, older than writing. And the sparse, black stage is a new universe, a unique self contained world. This evening we were expected to believe that we were on the beach, on the edge of a wild salt sea. A churning sea made of broken glass. Tossed and smashed by fierce waves the empty wine bottles shatter and shatter again, until they are ground into dust, into sand of the beach. And the sand can be melted, reformed into glass, endlessly rocking.

And like the poet who uses the flowing, alternating vowel to create emotions, or as the cunning raven who picks up objects to alert and inform the others, so too the performer uses flowing alternating gesture, motion, to grasp ideas, to create meaning.

Not quite mime, rather something more like to dance, to an art of motion. Not quite a narrative. Rather Tell Tales was like a strange utopian burlesque. Music and dance. Comedy, clowning, cabaret, chaos. Wine, sand, and popcorn. House lights off, a spot light, and Bridget Bridget Nicklason-King starts off the show hiding under a red sheet. Strange, protean, shapes under the sheet. A cluttering noise and we see her, bound, trying to come out of, trying to free herself from, this tattered worn and well used gladstone bag. Like a child being born? Does she wobble around like a baby foal unsure on its feet? Or is this a ecstatic, drunken, dance? One review, not seeing the bag as a uterus, saw it as Pandora's box “releasing its torrent of horrors before collapsing into the last rays of hope.”
Both views I am sure are right in their own way, and at the same time wrong. Wrong in the sense of not being concrete, not being complete.
But here is the point where the work may cause a divide. If you want your art, if you want the theater experience, to be all wrapped up and tidy, if you want all the various strands to come together in a neat bowpackage -- this work is not for you. If, however, you do not mind having to add structure, to fill in the spaces, if you understand that art, like life, is not neat and tidy, but rather fraught with errors that extend and liberate us; if you think that the genius and the fulfillment of art is to play, than this is a work for you.
The supporting staff around Bridget did a very good job, the set design, lighting, and sound blended together to support the performance, and were always discrete.
The only negative I can find is more a problem with the space. Bridget ended the show swimming in the broken glass sea. However due to the line of sight, I was unable to see this very well. I could, however, hear -- which in many ways is not a negative at all, but further to the idea of having to add elements to the show.
To find out more about this performance piece and Bridget Bridget Nicklason-King you should click on this link.

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