BWW Review: SEE IT NOW- The New Original Works Festival at RedCat - CALARTS Downtown Center
The 2019 NOW (New Original Works) Festival kicked off this summer at Redcat, a popular performance venue in Downtown Los Angeles. A presentation of dance, theatrical work addressing black perspectives regarding white America, and incredible technological experiments using elaborate sets and live feed cameras made for a broad palette.
Week 1 included artists Sola Bamis, Zach Dorn and Danielle Dahl, and Katherine Helen Fisher and Andrew Ondrejcak. Sola was not only an incredible actress in her one-woman work "The Tutorial Part II: The White Tears Tea Stream," but an inventive eye in combining the beauty standards in Hollywood, and by extension the Western world, highlighting inherent racism towards black women. I could have watched her for many more hours. A heavy and prevalent topic, she humorously equated white wine to the tears of white women. It was scary, and funny, and daunting, and Sola sucked us into her rhetoric like a vortex. Her digital alter ego can be followed at @racheldolezall.
Zach Dorn is a storyteller in his work "Sponge Hollow" and his incredible table-top platform he transformed into a childhood town in Florida. A projection of live-feed camera was situated upstage as a Lionel train circled through his story: an evolving relationship between a son and his mother and a giant sponge. Musical artist, Danielle Dahl, drove the narrative with a soundscape just as off as this sunglobe of a world Dorn created. Dorn reimagined and nailed a lower-middle class time capsule paying homage to the american cultural norms of kids growing up in the 90s.
As cosmic as dance itself, Katherine Helen Fisher, choreographed The Muses. This divine work could belong to a renaissance for art like in 1912 Paris. Alas, I am proud to say this 2019 Los Angeles collaboration between Helado Negro's musical compositions, Fisher's dance, and Andrew Ondrejcak's visual aesthetics transcended the evening from social to etherial.
Week 2 opened with two dancers center stage, facing one another on portable treadmills set against a silver fringe background and fury carpeting all around the stage. Maybe they walked a whole mile before Kate Watson-Wallce's "kim." even started. Textures and textiles galore, this sensory trio of dancers explored the dramaturgy of Veronica Casado Hernandez with beats by composer, Hprizm seated stage left in silver, metallic jacket. A hair section suggested the femme perspective of long hair. One boot on one foot, the other boot on the hand, dancer Julia Eicher, strutted around the stage and formed manikin-like poses. "I just wish I had more time," said one of the dancers. "Don't we all," the other two replied."...and sometimes I'm just like what am I doing?" A repetitive dialogue reminded me of the Kardashian Family's reality TV episodes.
Paul Outlaw's "BBC (Big Black Cockroach)," a one-man performance was the best use of space of the evening. A live-horror movie, where the plot meant a white woman woke up as a black man, Outlaw wore a woman's white nightgown and nothing else. The use of light set each new scene and the writing was superb. A "farce about black virility, white fragility, gender confusion an internalized homophobia and misogyny." The power of this work is a see-for-yourself kind of experience. Paul Outlaw will challenge you and leave you stunned.
Alexandro Seagade and Amy Ruhl's "Popular Revolt" took us into the funny, bullshit world of a corporate employment experience. Involving the audience, we were led down a rabbit hole of political incorrectness to develop a "socialism app." The acting was good and boring which allowed the audience to really feel like they were in a mandatory sensitivity training. The use of video chats and live stream were choppy and off-putting in certain instances similar to real life. With the performers seated at desks facing upstage this work was truly for the audience to interact with and see the absurdity in.
The NOW Festival is creatively stimulating, thought-provoking, and inventively inspiring. Don't miss Week 3 this week Thursday, August 8-Saturday August 10. Get your tickets NOW: https://www.redcat.org/festival/now19