Friday, May 08, 2009

FRONTIER: Site Specific Cabaret - Seattle University

FRONTIER: Site Specific Cabaret
May 7 - 17, 2009
(Friday and Saturdays performed twice at 7:30 and 10:30pm)

Phoebe Hopkins and Nolan Morante. Photo by Garett Mukai, 2009.

Last year, Producer / Playwright / Director Ki Gottberg put together a Site Specific Cabaret that was performed all over the Seattle University Campus. Starting the audience inside the Lee Center for the Arts lobby, they then traveled across the campus and back. The show began with daylight and by the last performance had work lights outside in a courtyard near the theater. This year, the Site Specific Cabaret  comes earlier in the year and reverses its direction. Instead of taking the audience to the location that the writers chose for their pieces, the writers wrote around a pre-designed set (Carol Wolfe Clay) inside the Lee Center for the Performing Arts. Additionally, this year's Site Specific Cabaret plays host to Seattle University's first ever Student Playwrighting Competition. Ji Eun Kim and Riley Biehl's plays were two of the six pieces in the evenign of one-acts written by Ki Gottberg, Vince Delaney, Glenn Herganhahn, Cheryl Slean and with original composition by Casey James.

The six pieces (The Zero Footprint, Beyond the Frontier, The Wonders of the Swirling Night, Miranda, Family on a Sunday Drive, and The Eye is Burning) all deal, in some way, with the idea of Frontier. Whether this meant the frontier of a new world, or a new way of being, it is a fabulous game to try to determine how each one deals with 'Frontier' throughout the piece.

It is difficult to summarize the performance as a whole because it truly is six very individual and very unique pieces of theatre art that come to life before the audience. As is often the case with Seattle one-act festivals, the pieces don't necessarily make complete sense and one may not be able to figure out what each one is saying or even what the plot necessarily is. However, these six pieces take on the form of something much more human and visceral than is usually seen in these kinds of explorations. Ordinarily, a set of shows like this would be weird for weirdness' sake. These six, though, are incredibly weird but with such honesty and intention that they will continue to burrow into the audience's brains and try to figure themselves out.

Technically speaking, the series is spectacular. Lighting (D.M. Moon), set (Carol Wolfe Clay), costumes (Harmony J.K. Arnold, Andy Swanson, Annie Murphy, Lana Alisdairi, and Nicole Vukonich), and sound (Brendan Hogan) work together brilliantly. Though there is not much of a through line connecting the six pieces, there is a definite connection though the designs and the simple fact of being housed in the same set.

The show runs about two and a half hours with a ten minute intermission and, thanks to the originality of these pieces, does it without getting dull or tedious. Therefore, get your tickets now! It's a small house (fifty seats) so it will sell quickly. Call 206.296.2244 for tickets and reserve them ASAP!

Review by Andrew J. Perez

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