One of the great things about strolling through the galleries at the Walker is the fact that you can use your cell phone to get information about a particular painting that you want a little more information about. It’s called Art on Call. It’s a little something that just ties everything together. Like having an expert at your fingertips.
Now the same is true for Out There 21, Performing Arts’annual showcase of new and contemporary performance. I know there have been many times you wish you could have picked up your cell phone during some of the more challenging performances and had someone turn the light on above your head. That’s what we do best down here in Education!
This year’s lineup is great, and I’m not saying this just because all of the creators called and left messages on my voicemail telling me so. I’m saying this because each is constructing a thoughtful, energetic, and engaging piece about thorny and serious issues. Tim Crouch’s England which takes place in the galleries asks us why we put so much value on art, and how that parallels the value or lack of value we place on human life. His piece poses moral questions in an interesting way.
Young Jean Lee, whose previous work Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, was a smash hit, returns to give us a show about religion. In her interview, she said the way she works is that she thinks of a show that she would never want to make and then forces herself to make it. Even if you don’t come for the carefully constructed sermons in the piece, show up to hear a full gospel choir. Performing Arts curator Phillip Bither said that after they commissioned Songs of the Flying Dragon, they immediately asked her to create another new work. Bither says she takes the same scalpel to the subject of religion as she did to Asian stereotypes in Songs of the flying Dragon. “Her work is startling, provocative and exciting,” stated Bither.
National Theatre of the United States of America is constructing a real circus tent on the McGuire Stage, using local in-line hockey players, and offering free beer in the newly added beer garden in the McGuire for their show Chautauqua!. It promises to be one of the more ambitious performances. Apart from making the Events and Media Production staff very nervous, the piece presents an interesting challenge to Performing Arts staff. It forced them to re-think of the way they function as presenters as NTUSA blurs the line between National and Local in this piece. Oh, and the performance features the Walkers own Jill Vuchetich. She will present a history of the Walker as part of the show.
Each of these four pieces was chosen, Bither said, because, “of their fresh and never seen before approaches to theatre. They challenge us to re-think what theatre is.” So, you should go and see Out There 21 next month. And, you should let your fingers do the walking and let the experimental theater artists do the talking as you wait for the lights to dim.