Monday, January 9, 2017

Out There 2017: Andrew Schneider's YOUARENOWHERE

Are you nowhere? Or now here? 

Photo by Maria Baranova.
Ah, January. Whoever decided to schedule the change to a new year here really knew what they were doing. When you're overloaded with holiday foods, tired due to Vitamin D deficiency, and waiting for the snow to melt so you can leave your house (aka thoroughly sedentary), you need quite a bit of motivation to stay active. New Year's resolutions definitely make instigating that level of activity so much easier.

I'm still mulling through my resolutions (can't I make resolutions all year long?), but one of them as always is to keep working to refresh the blog. For my perspective on theater, there is no better palate cleanser every year than the Out There series at the Walker Art Center. Challenging everything you think is possible (or impossible) to put on a stage, the Out There series always features innovative, thought provoking work that rewires my brain and pushes me to get out of my deep-rooted expectations for art and performances.
Photo by Maria Baranova.
The first of the Out There series shows premiered on Thursday with Andrew Schneider's YOUARENOWHERE, a true exercise in learning to bend your perspective. The show starts off ordinarily enough with the audience watching a one man show in front of a plain white screen. The monologue traverses multiple areas - philosophy, pop art and music, religion, beliefs, past experiences and mistakes, memoir and autobiography - while being interspersed with thoroughly schizophrenic lighting. About half way through the show the curtain (or the literal fourth wall) drops, and our perspective on what we just witnessed is completely changed. I don't want to give away what happens lest I ruin the surprise for future viewers, but suffice it to say: it involved a bravado dual performance that is perfectly synced and gives new definition to the term "mirror effect."
Photo by Maria Baranova.
Unexpected plot line aside, the lighting is the real conversation starter here. If you're not really sure why lighting or sound tech is important or it feels often invisible to you, this show is a striking, slap-in-the-face demonstration of the effects it can have. Much of the beginning of the show is interspersed with quick turns of the lights on and off, strobe lights, fast paced color changes and loud, dispersed sound effects. It can be quite jarring and takes a while to get used to, but once you get over the hump it's an interesting live version of often-irritating technological snafus (think: the moments back when you still watched VHS and the tape was fuzzy or the screen started to skip because the tape was damaged - it's like that, but real life). The special effects are essential for helping the audience follow the jarring script and truly sense the emotional extremes of the narrator; they'll definitely get you thinking.
Photo by Maria Baranova.
If you missed YOUARENOWHERE, no worries! There are three more shows coming up in the Out There series, and all of them are worth visiting. One of the best things about Out There is that it features avant garde performers from around the world who are otherwise difficult to see - don't miss this chance to do so. Tickets are super affordable and shows almost always run short at two hours or much less, so it's easy to squeeze performances into your work week. Keep up on your New Year's resolution to learn more about art (I know there are some of you out there!) and check this series out; it's a wasabi-fresh way to wipe out your preconceived notions of performance art and start the New Year with a New Perspective. For more information on the Out There series or to buy tickets, click on this link.