note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Larry Stark
Murga songs by Alejandro Balbis
Lighting Design by Kathy Couch
Two different members of The Pilgrim Theatre (which calls itself a "research and performance collaborative") told me of taking their "Faust 2002" --- which had its world premiere in the BCA Cyclorama one year ago --- to Poland. They had to perform the show --- in English, mind you --- at one to three A M, outdoors, in the stone outdoor courtyard of a cold castle. And yet despite the hour, the cold, and the language barrier, their enthusiastic audience was as large as all their previous audience Combined, and the people loved the show.
It ain't the same here in Boston!
Instead of their own work, Pilgrim is hosting a series of performances by fellow theater artists Perla Logarzo (co-founder of Argentina's Diablomundo company), the Chimaera Physical Theater, Tempest Productions, and the Serious Play!Theatre Ensemble. And here there may also be a "language barrier": the Boston audience seems in no way receptive to performances that add a theatrical vocabulary of movement, dance, singing, spectacle, poetry and stage-picture to speech, text, and realistic playing.
The Spanish title for Perla Logarzo's piece ("There are Stones in Heaven for Thunder") is used here deliberately. The four songs are sung in Spanish, and not all but most of the words, speeches, and quotes from songs are untranslated as well. But the meanings of the piece are not in words, nor trapped in story. They come out of the figure of one barefoot woman whirling ecstatically, flinging herself brutally to the floor to crawl through paths of light, miming the strut of a bird, alternating mirth and despair,and bathing naked in order to re-enact her own birth as a performer. The piece is a compelling ritual, intensely focused and timelessly insistent.
The performance opens with songs by Alejandro Balbis, who will give a three-day workshop of this "Murga!" style of earthy, rhythmic choral singing from Uruguay and Argentina.
The object of the game here is not "And what's the Meaning of all that?" --- not a puzzle to be picked apart, but an intensely felt connection between performer and audience --- a human ritual to which one must simply open the mind and taste what is there.