For the Birds takes flight again Sunday at Aviary



Post written by Robert Raczka

A cross between a trained-animal show and a Dada performance — though far more agreeable than the term “Dada” might conjure — For the Birds is the brainchild of Carnegie Mellon graduate art students Tucker Marder and Daniel Allende.

It’s a theatrical performance, though without narration, and not the usual fare for this theater, or any other. Running about 30 minutes, it’s both abstract and engaging. Last Sunday, at the first of its two performances, it seemed to please the children and adults present.

  • Photo courtesy of Laila Archuleta

Marder and Allende represent a growing contingent of artists who are not performance artists as such but produce performances as a part of their art practice, while also making stuff. For this large-scale collaboration, they assembled a team of more than a dozen human performers, production staff, bird trainers, et al, not to mention a macaw, hawk, snowy owl, and vultures that flew freely within the theater.

Accompanied by marimba and percussion, performers in turn took the stage attired in outlandish costumes, some very sculptural, affording limited movement — such as one that appeared to be based on a birdhouse — and others akin to Spandex-y tights enabling free movement of the modern-dance type.

In look and deed, all was light and playful, punctuated by the fact that the birds, like most creatures, are willing to work for food. When not swooping across the room on cue, they were doing bird tricks, often by interacting with aspects of the more sculptural costumes. Things generally unfolded at a leisurely pace, except for the flurry of wing flapping (by the humans) that served as a finale.

While quirky, Dada-ish performance doesn’t have the power to shock that it once did, it can still surprise, and in this case, promote respect for the beauty and power of birds.

For the Birds is a project of the National Aviary, with support from The Sprout Fund and CMU.

A second, final show will be presented the National Aviary’s FliteZone Theatre at 6 p.m. Sun., May 11.

Tickets are a bargain at the reduced rate of $10 (120 seats are available first-come-first-serve at the door) and also include a chance to peruse the Aviary starting at 5 p.m. as well as after the show.

Tickets and more info are available here.

The National Aviary is located at 700 Arch St., on the North Side.

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