Monday, March 08, 2010

Solo Performance Festival: Pipa & Frontier: Valley of the Shadows

Solo Performance is back in Seattle! The Solo Performance Festival #4: Can you Get My Back? is up and running at the Theater off Jackson in the international district. Curator Keira McDonald has brought together acts from across North America in a huge variety of genres: storytelling, stand-up, dance, burlesque, and much much more.

To view the full festival lineup and buy tickets, visit

All this month, reviewers and some new guest reviewers will be writing short pieces about various shows thoughout the run of the festival. Ever wanted to be involved in BroadwayHour, or see what reviewing a show is like? Now's your chance! Send an email to broadwayhour AT and let us know what shows you're interested in reviewing, and you too can be a reviewer for an evening.

Below, read the first review, from this past Friday night:

Pipa and Frontier: Valley of the Shadows
Solo Performance Festival
March 5th, 2010

One of the best parts of Seattle's Solo Performance Festival is the sheer amount of variety in the acts brought to the stage. Curator Keira McDonald pairs performers that otherwise might never share the stage, and that pairing brings out nuances in each act. Such was the case with Friday night's show, which paired Tamera Ober's Pipa and Ki Gottberg's Frontier: Valley of the Shadows.
Ober opens Pipa by rushing onto the stage and bumping straight into the microphone. Adorably sheepish, she makes her way down to the mic—pointed close to the floor—and begins to narrate her story. With a mixture of live storytelling, voice overs, music and dance, Ober shows us the story of Pipa, a girl who sees the world slightly differently from the rest of us. Ober's movements are beautifully controlled, whether she is carefully measuring herself out on the floor, or catapulting around the stage. Ober's control extends to her set as well, as she both climbs and carries a velvet-covered stool and a long bench. Her quirky and charming choreography takes us through her house and on a journey to the supermarket that quickly turns fantastical.
Ki Gottberg's Frontier is a ride from India to Germany to the United States, from parents to children, about taking in the fullness of life and facing the hardships. She tells the story of her parents, one a German knife-seller, the other an Anglo-Indian woman, and their journey to meet and move together to America. Gottberg is a master storyteller, able to change her voice and body at a moment's notice to imitate her father's gruff German accent, or her mother's wispy Indian voice. Interspersed with this—and the true driving force of this tale—is Gottberg facing her daughter's diagnosis of cancer. Though the story has a happy ending, Gottberg does not shy away from baring her grief to the audience, and bringing us close to her.
Though Pipa never mentions the word “frontier,” the character within it faces many frontiers, and finds her way around various boundaries, both physically and metaphorically. And though Gottberg standing center stage with a music stand may not seem a likely pair with a lively dance act, her story of family generations beautifully complements Pipa's solo journey.
Unfortunately, Tamera Ober performs this weekend only, but Seattle audiences have one more chance to catch Gottberg's show, on March 13th. For the full festival lineup, visit

There are still three more weekends of shows to go—enjoy solo performance!

Reviewed by Kenna Kettrick

No comments: