Whatever else Translations might be, it was a chance this past Friday to see a remarkable and varied array of talent on a single stage in one night, loosely arrayed around a theme.New Hazlett Theater’s Community Supported Art subcription series, was in six acts (and two ongoing works), each adapted from an earlier public performance piece by Jennifer Myers.
So, for instance, dancers Jasmine Hearn and Jil Stifel did a beautiful dry-land version of Myers’ “The Baiji’s Last Swim,” a performance work she did on the Allegheny River last year (with gorgeous erhu music played live by Mimi Jong). And the always stunning vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield did an a capella reprise of Myers singing “This Land is Your Land” at Allegheny County Council to protest plans to frack in public parks. (Wingfield’s performance was supplemented by young Kylan Bower Bjornson reading a statement to council on the same subject.)
Another highlight was “The Woman As,” which combined a spoken-word account of unflattering slang describing women throughout history, by Oreen Cohen, with a knockout dance by Gia T. Cacalano: contorting, convulsing, folding, Cacalano seemed to express animal suffering turned human, and vice versa.
Myers ran a smoke machine that blew perfect rings. The evening was closed out by Ji Young Nam, playing a beautiful piece on viola.
The evening was unified by between-act tarot-style readings by The Unreliable Narrator (Scott Andrew), who largely quoted text from testimony and speeches by indigenous people about our pillaging of the natural world. “The destruction of nature is the destruction of our energy, and of our existence here on earth,” went one.
Perhaps inevitably, given the work’s origin, the sum of the parts might have been more than the whole, although the excellent lighting design, by Mark Bailey, and sound design, by Ricardo Iamuuri Robinson’s Sonarcheology Studios, did nothing but help.
The New Hazlett’s CSA performance series recruits shareholders to fund supported residencies by local performers, with the payoff a ticket to the show. Halfway through the current season, with three performances to go, the theater is offering half-shares for $50 each.
Look into it here.
The second-half performers are: Jil Stifel and Ben Sota (Feb. 12); Anya Martin and the Hiawatha Project (April 2); and Teena Marie Custer and Roberta Guido (June 11).
Single tickets to individual events are also available for non-subscribers, for $20 each.
A bonus for second-half subscribers will be tickets to the world premiere of Alexis Gideon’s “video opera” The Crumbling, February 20-21.