Tuesday, January 05, 2010

RED NOIR, an Outrider FEAST! 

ANARCHY is the call from the very start of Anne Waldman's play Red Noir at The Living Theater, the legendary spot where Jean Cocteau staged his play Orpheus in 1954, and where Jean Genet, Bertolt Brecht and Jackson Mac Low staged plays in the 1960's. And now Anne Waldman in 2010.

Most of the lines are from Waldman's new book of poems RED NOIR, but there are also lines from Jack Kerouac's Mexico City Blues, the biography of Frederick Douglas, and Diane diPrima's famous line appears, "the only war that matters is the war against the imagination."

The acting of Sheila Dabney blew my mind right from the start. She has Outrider Outlaw stamped on her somewhere, no doubt about it! The intimate way the stage is set with the audience literally right up against the, and inside the, part of the, entire performance, gives us every turn of Sheila's eyes, limbs, her every mountainous syllable!

Audience participation isn't just mandatory, I mean to say by the time you're guided out of your seat to BECOME the play you already feel like you've been part of it. It feels entirely natural, the connectedness to the lines and to the actors as they gently direct you. We do reiki and meditative chanting, humming, and I REALLY DON'T WANT TO GIVE IT AWAY.

I'm no good at reviews because I'm always afraid I'll give too much away. If you don't see this play in its short run in New York City I'll be sad for you, whether you want me to be or not. I was sitting next to Wallace Shawn in the audience, but by the time we were guided into the magical fray I truly felt like I had acted in a play with Wallace Shawn, and that I should now be allowed to audition on Broadway and say so! Just kidding!

Another favorite of mine was Benjamin Cerf, who does work with Reverend Billy as part of the Life After Shopping Choir, he also works with THE YES MEN, Billionaires for Wealth Care, and calls himself an activist performer, which I like. Which makes so much sense that he would be in this very moving political drama of Waldman's.

Judith Malina, founder of The Living Theater in the 1940's directed this play, and was there in the audience.


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