BWW Reviews: A SIMPLE SPACE Thrills Spoleto Audiences

BWW Reviews: A SIMPLE SPACE Thrills Spoleto Audiences

GRAVITY AND OTHER MYTHS is an Australian physical theatre troupe that redefines the boundaries of traditional circus entertainment. Featuring seven acrobats and a percussionist, the ensemble's astonishing feats of physical strength, rhythm, flexibility and precision teamwork delighted audiences at Charleston's Spoleto Festival during the festival's opening weekend.

The troupe performed their award-winning piece, A SIMPLE SPACE, in the Emmett Robinson Theatre on the College of Charleston campus. A full house of around 400 audience members was seated around four sides of a simple tumbling mat. At the corners of the mat, lighting poles supported lamps that were turned on and off manually by the performers throughout the performance. Costumes were simple t-shirts and pants for the men, and sports bras and dance shorts for the women. The simplicity of the staging elements placed full focus on the amazing physicality of these engaging young performers and their gravity-defying stunts.

Audience members seated in the first row were mere inches away as performers went through a highly choreographed and thrilling sequence of playful acrobatic feats. The troupe members played strip jumprope, dove from heights into the arms of waiting castmates and even balanced on their heads while solving a Rubic's cube.

The spatial proximity between audience and performer evoked audible laughs, ooh and ahhs from the spectators, as the troupe tumbled and spun a hair's-breath away. Audience members were invited to get in on the fun during one sequence involving pit balls; during another sequence, a member of the troupe balanced on the bodies of cast members and audience members lying in a circle on the mat. The shared comraderie between performers and spectators spilled over into the lobby after the show, when troupe members assembled to greet and chat with audience members.

The six men and two women held the audience breathless for an unforgettable celebration of the human body and the power of play. It was 53 minutes of unqualified delight.

Photo Courtesy A SIMPLE SPACE

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Debra Charlton Debra Charlton is the author of Holistic Shakespeare: An Experiential Learning Approach (Intellect Books 2012). Her reviews and articles on Shakespeare training and performance have appeared in numerous publications. Most recently, her chapter on Sarah Bernhardt was published in Women in the Arts in the Belle Epoque (MacFarland 2012).

Debra Charlton received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialization in Shakespearean theatre.  She joined the faculty of Texas State University in 1999 where she served as Director of Graduate Studies in Theatre until 2013. At Texas State, she established and supervised the production dramaturgy program at Texas State, and founded a summer Shakespeare intensive in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK.

Dr. Charlton began her career as a professional actor at Houston’s Alley Theatre.  She has since directed many productions, including King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Blood Wedding, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Winter’s Tale.   She has also worked as a production dramaturg on many plays, including Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night, Oklahoma!, A Little Night Music, Arcadia, The Art of Dining, and The Learned Ladies.







 
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