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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Genuinely Shameless Self-Promotion

If you or anyone you know will be in Des Moines between July 20th and 23rd, or in Minneapolis/St. Paul between August 3rd and 7th, we’re well worth the trouble of coming to see our performances in the Iowa and Minneapolis Fringe Festivals. And we need you there! Though the Fringe setup is ideal for out-of-town ensembles (since the whole festival and its program are well-advertised), we’re still going to perform in cities where almost nobody has ever heard of us.

The Nonsense Company, the theater and avant-garde music group of which I make up one-third, will be performing three works by our main composer/playwright, Rick Burkhardt—one of my favorite artists. In Des Moines, we’ll do The Climb Up Mount Chimborazo, a 90-minute play centered around the relationship between Simon Bolivar (who led the campaign that freed South America from Spain before being brought down by local aristocracies) and his tutor, Don Simon Rodriguez/Robinson. This summary doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the wide variety of topics, historical periods (including the present), and theatrical modes that make up the substance of the play. You can find out more about it by clicking the link above (the whole script is online), and also by reading my review of it in an earlier post.

In Minneapolis, we’ll perform two pieces. The first is Great Hymn of Thanksgiving for three speaking percussionists. Seated around a dinner table setup (with additional cymbals, bowed autoharp, toy piano and steel drum), the players perform an intricate score that negotiates between a rich array of odd noises and a battery of intriguing speech techniques, all in shifting and precise coordinations and in the context of the war in Iraq. No-one I've talked to who's heard this piece thinks there's anything like it.

Conversation Storm is more like a play. Three old high school classmates have an argument about torture, in the course of which they’re drawn into acting out absurd scenarios that raise the question of whether the argument itself represents a horrifying complicity with the current administration’s absolute disregard for human life. Slipping in and out of character, their repeated rehearsals and retakes of their own performance form a troubling counterpoint to the staged argument.

I think these are standout pieces that really need to be seen. Also, my compatriots are damn fine actors.

A warning: Chimborazo contains dimly lit nudity and “explicit language.” Great Hymn features a number of noises (like forks screeching on plates) that may cause you to cringe. Conversation Storm is deeply troubling and often genuinely revolting.

P.S. I'm rehearsing constantly for these performances, so please forgive me if I take an inexcusable amount of time to comment on your recent long narrative poem, or fail to leave sufficiently witty comments on your blog, or start quoting Jay Bybee's "torture memo."

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