Tuesday, November 13, 2007
foolsFURY's fabulous write-up in the SF Bay Guardian
My peeps (did I just say that? Yep, I did) in San Francisco just won the Goldie Award for Theater. Yay!
Check out this fantastic write-up:
Goldie winner -- Theater: foolsFURY
Where kinetic energy meets darkly alluring words
BY ROBERT AVILA
Wednesday November 7, 2007
One of the first things to strike you about a foolsFURY production is its sheer kinetic energy and rigorous physical vocabulary. Hovering somewhere between modern dance and mime, or maybe the fashion runway and the circus, the movement of the actors onstage suggests tightly coiled regimentation and an unpredictable, acrobatic freedom. Bodies rewrite the most seemingly inconsequential gestures as larger than life or in an altogether different register, so that you might suddenly see and wonder at them.
But the next thing to strike you will surely be the words. From its first outing nearly a decade ago to recent San Francisco and New York runs of artistic director Ben Yalom's translation and staging of The Devil on All Sides (French playwright Fabrice Melquiot's magic-realist rumination on Yugoslavia's civil war) and the remounting in September of its exquisite version of the Henry James ghost story The Turn of the Screw (directed by company member Rod Hipskind), foolsFURY remains wedded to deep, often darkly comical, and alluring texts steeped in the mysterious potency of words.
The physical athleticism and stylization onstage — grounded in a unique, evolving synthesis of techniques from Tadashi Suzuki and Viewpoints to commedia dell'arte and Jerzy Grotowski — are, of course, inseparable from the company's approach to such texts, whether they're Martin Crimp's silky and sinister ellipses (Attempts on Her Life), Don DeLillo's gloomy, incantatory wisecracking (Valparaiso), Kirk Wood Bromley's neo-Shakespearean, post-American rag (Midnight Brainwash Revival), or even Shakespeare himself (in one inimitable take on Twelfth Night that went solely by its telling subtitle, What You Will). This pairing of soaring physicality and textual depth has been a driving force behind the success of the small but restlessly active, ambitious company (which has also become a vital teaching center in the theater community) since its noteworthy debut in 1998.
Together with other choice elements — including the sensitive use of music, sound, and scenic design — foolsFURY's heightened theatrical language is, at its best, a surprise and a challenge to audiences, inspiring and even requiring them to develop new ways of receiving a performance. Yalom concedes that it has taken some time to achieve all of this, including a stable group of like-minded, technically practiced actors. He claims he wasn't thinking beyond a single play when he almost inadvertently founded the company. "I had no idea what it meant to be a professional theater director or artistic director," he recalls. "I was working with a couple of companies, trying to get them to hire me to direct a play — specifically The Possibilities, the Howard Barker play. After a while I started to get to know the scene, and it became pretty evident that that wasn't going to happen. So I decided I was going to produce it myself."
Novice though he was, he had long been thinking about what makes theater different and vital, a train of thought the company members have since taken up together. "After spending a lot of time experimenting, we started to find certain aesthetic forms that were interesting. But to me it really comes down to the larger question 'What should be the role of this art form in our contemporary culture?' Because, frankly, if it doesn't have a specific value and something that is unique about it, then, much as I love doing it, it would be irrelevant. I don't think that's the case [with foolsFURY], though it's taken me a long time to figure out how and why."
And the name? "I made it up," says Yalom. "It really fit the Barker piece, and I think to a certain extent it fits [the company].
What underlies a lot of our sensibility is a collision of things that are uncomfortable and things that are funny because they're uncomfortable. We've done a couple of shows that would be categorized as comedies. The far greater amount of work has been things that have been funny but funny because they are challenging and thought provoking and, certainly sometimes, very upsetting. The Barker was a perfect example of that: the 'fool' and the 'fury' just sort of crammed together."
bike antics continued
Usually, I'm fastidious about detailling my myriad biking-in-NYC-related gripes and gaffs; but I've been lax of late.
last week I had plans to meet Larry for post-performance, post-yoga tea and dessert. I parked my bike on West 4th between 6th and Washington Square West and grabbed some food from what, it must be said, was definitely the wrong choice of two veggie Asian restaurants on that block (I went into Vegetarian Paradise, rather than Red Bamboo, and I think Vegetarian Paradise should probably be renamed Rastafarian San Antonio (as opposed to, say, Dallas) Seitan BBQ). When I emerged half an hour later and six tons worth of gelatinous sauce-covered wheat gluten heavier I discovered that someone had locked his or her bike TO mine. This offending bicycle had been parked at the same post when I arrived, but somehow in the duration it took me to suck down the hideous chow, the proprietor of said bike had thought it was a good idea (or, more likely, not thought at all) to take their chain lock and pass it through my frame rather than around the post. I went into every business on the block to see if it belonged to a delivery person, but, alas, it did not. It was too flash to be a delivery bike - a silver Mongoose with suspension. So I called the police. I waited two and a half hours during which time the folks who worked at the nearby dry cleaners emerged periodically with miscellaneous keys, hammers, and other devices in an effort to break the lock (not one passerby especially cared or noticed a white girl with pigtails with two very short, hammer-wielding Latino men, and a supervising Asian man smoking a cigarette and looking on skeptically as we bashed away fruitlessly at this padlock). The police eventually turned up, not having any idea why I'd requested their presence and, naturally, totally unequipped to deal with the problem.
I then learned that
a) there are only two patrol cars for the entire West Village on an average Monday night
b) 911 dispatchers do not provide any information to the officers on duty regarding the nature of the dispatch (which leads me to wonder what would have happened if I'd actually had a real emergency)
The police officers were very kind, but utterly useless so I then had to wait another 30 minutes for some emergency services folks to arrive with various lock-picking implements. Eventually, they unlocked the parasitic bike and I left a note that said:
Watch where you lock your bike, genius. It took the police and 2 1/2 hours to get your bike UNLOCKED FROM MINE. You're lucky I didn't trash the fuckin' thing.
Moments after I left the house this morning my rack basically deconstructed itself on (and eventually off) my frame. It fell off with my panniers attached to it near 50th and 1st Ave. I need to buy a new one. Any recommendations? I have some research to do.