The Kitchen Theatre Company’s annual Bring in the Spring! performance art festival, which officially kicked off on March 21, will bring a host of talented performers to Ithaca. With a diverse lineup of local and nationally known performers, this year’s Bring in the Spring! offers area theatergoers a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.
The festival began 3 years ago as a way to bring cutting edge theatre to the Ithaca area. The show’s producer, Holly Golden describes the acts in this manner: “Performance art can include elements of any other form of performance — text, dance, music, lighting, etc. But it doesn’t have to include any of those elements. Plays, dance and opera all have to include certain elements — the audience knows what to expect. But with performance art, the audience has to relax and allow their expectations to be played with.”
This year, the festival is composed of spoken-word performances. From poetry, to storytelling and monologues, the lineup is rich with lyric expression. And each act, in their own way, brings a new slant to the genre of performance art.
“Performance art is challenging,” says Golden. “It almost invariably challenges or expands boundaries in order to delight, disgust, inspire, infuriate, or simply raise questions. Sometimes those boundaries are between art forms (such as theater and visual art), sometimes the boundaries are between norms and taboos (in order to raise questions about the ways we live our lives), and sometimes they are simply the boundaries of our expectations. We have to go to performance art with a spirit of adventure and be brave enough to suspend our usual judgement for an evening — it’s an adventurous spirit at the borders, after all, that keeps our arts alive at the center.”
And, as this festival proves, the arts are very much alive.
The festival kicked off with a performance from charismatic storyteller David Novak. His performance piece, entitled Blush White and Chaste Red, was a comic and thought provoking imagining of a variety of folk tales, which included renderings of the Cinderella story and the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. A rich and often funny blend of several storytelling traditions, Novak’s performance was a fun and engaging kickoff to this year’s festivities.
The final days of March brought Sharon Hope to the Kitchen’s stage. Hope, an actress who you might recognize from television appearances on Law and Order and Another World, tackles a great variety of social and political issues in her solo performances. This year’s offering from Hope was a piece called Women I Have Known: Mrs. Reader et al, a work composed of monologues, poetry, and music centering around Mrs. Reader, a Caribbean psychic.
Tonight, the stage becomes the realm of Deb Margolin (left), a performer who won an OBIE in 2000 for sustained excellence in theatre. Margolin is a pioneer of modern performance art and has been at the very heart of the movement for two decades. Aside from her solo performance pieces, for which she has received much acclaim, Margolin periodically holds residencies at various universities. In addition, she teaches playwrighting and performance at NYU and Yale.
For this festival, Margolin will be performing her O Wholly Night and Other Jewish Solecisms. This show leaves Margolin alone on the stage to explore and ponder the burdens, joys, and sorrows of being a Jew in America.
On April 11, slam poet Gayle Danley (left) will bring her unique form of lyricism to Ithaca. Danley’s work is a unique and energetic mix of physicality, emotion, and language. Her range is wide and her talent undeniable — at once covering the subjects of love, of urban life, friendship, and loyalty.
Danley has several slam titles to her name, including the 1994-95 individual championship title from the National Poetry Slam. She’s more recently worked in Washington, D.C. at the Poets for Peace Reading to Provide Immediate Assistance to the Red Cross, which was held following the events of September 11. And, though her distinctions are vast, she uses her gifts as a teaching tool, showing both her students and her audiences that it’s possible to express oneself through the power of verse.
The festival will wrap up with a series of performances by playwright and actor Kit Wainer (left) whose remaining performances will be staged April 7 and 8. Wainer’s work is deeply concerned with marginalized women and the various roles that women currently play in our society. A local Ithacan, Wainer will premier a new work called The Teakettle in the Crafts Room, in which she plays five separate social outcasts, bringing their lives, worries, and cares to life.
For more information on the Bring in the Spring! festival or to reserve tickets for a performance, please contact the ticket center in the Clinton House at 607.273.4497
Archived article by Nate Brown