BWW Review: Rude Mechanicals NOT EVERY MOUNTAIN Mesmerizes
Rude Mechanicals Co-Artistic Producers Thomas Graves and Kirk Lynn created NOT EVERY MOUNTAIN as a part of a project the theatre company is working on called Perverse Results (a name derived from a corollary of Murphy's Law.) Through the unique, collaborative method the Rudes use to create a project, Graves brought the idea to Lynn in a desire to portray appreciation for the natural world in a dance piece that involved geometric shapes. Lynn had been working on a writing prompt every morning over the years that began with, "Not Every Mountain...". The result was first performed here in Austin, and the Rudes were given a residency for the piece at The Guthrie Theatre, and again at Theatre Nanterre-Amandiers and Pivot Arts Festival Incubator Arts Program.
Presented with a gorgeous live score by Peter Stopschinski, the actors in NOT EVERY MOUNTAIN give us a little over an hour of meditative contemplation. Lynn's writing prompt is turned here into an evocative piece of long form poetry, if I may call it that, read oh-so-well by the beautiful Crystal Bird Caviel, as the other artists shape and reshape, build and rebuild, well ... a mountain.
Proving that impermanence is also a context for the place in which they perform, the Rudes have staged NOT EVERY MOUNTAIN in the very middle of a warehouse, with a minimum of glamorous comfort. Arena style, in the middle of this cavernous box, it's easy to think you might miss something, but that's part of the experience. A mountain will look different from every side. Brian H. Scott lights the stage aptly and beautifully, Aaron Flynn costumes the cast with thoughtful and conceptual detail. Every performer gives us a simultaneously non-descript and unique quiet, concentrated portrayal of, well, an artist, building a mountain.
The Rude Mechanicals are a treasured gift to the Austin Arts scene, and in full disclosure, my favorite theatre company in town. As we set off for the evening, I explained to my wife just how innovative I felt the Rudes are, and, having seen some "conceptual" pieces with me before, she was skeptical. As such, those who are less familiar with The Rudes might also raise an eyebrow in my attempt to explain just how ingenious and brilliant it can be to watch performers put geometric pieces of cardboard together to build a mountain, blow up large inflatable white plastic with leaf blowers to simulate clouds, and whip rope lights around as if they were lightning. That just sounds like a play some kindergartners might 'put on." It is entirely not that, I assure you. It's the Rudes. The integrity and context with which all these things occurs is everything, and we are the ones who benefit. You'll just have to see it to fully understand, as is the way of much of The Rude Mechanicals work.
NOT EVERY MOUNTAIN doesn't give us a slice of life with a tidy beginning, middle and end. Instead, it reflects on a spectrum from miniscule day to day musings to the expansive experience of eons passing. And nothing, nothing at all, is permanent. Somehow, in this performance piece this is a comforting, rather than challenging thought. As the Rude Mechanicals say about the piece, "Not Every Mountain is a presentation of the life cycle of mountains and the processes by which they are born and eventually laid to rest, an invocation of tectonic force and geologic time." Graves and Lynn's initial idea has become in NOT EVERY MOUNTAIN, a mesmerizing observance of both the macro and microcosm of living, loving, politics, ecology, and time.
Motion Media Arts Center
2200 Tillery Street
Austin, TX, 78723
Tickets: Sliding Scale $5 - $35
Tickets available here.
Photo credit: Bret Brookshire