Up and Down. Up and Down

Shall Robin Restore Amends?


Walk the Night strides among us again. The third annual incarnation is titled Visions of Shadows. It probably goes without saying, if you’ve connected to a similar experience before, that the underlying concept suggests ghostly doings as Halloween hovers on the horizon. Shakespeare connections are also part of the pattern.

In this instance, the underlying source is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Fragments of the play emerge. From time to time. Amid all kinds of physical action, some of which, clearly, is choreographed.

All this occurs within ConAgra’s Building 1. As in past Walks, ticket-holders are asked to wear masks; the performers materialize without them. Waiting in a lobby at 8:30 on a Saturday night, attendees were addressed by a young woman behind a lectern, reading from a page, while, underneath her, recorded music competed for attention. Visitors, as always, are certainly encouraged to stand close to any element, should they wish to.  Recommended in this instance, if hoping to understand her.

Thereafter, a cast of characters appears on a staircase, from which several of them lead maskers by the hand, down a flight of stairs to a lower floor. There everything unfolds while all types of unconventionally costumed figures gyre and gimble. The territory resembles some kind of weird museum or perhaps a cageless zoo. Unusual designs, fabrics, figurines and conventional-looking framed paintings proliferate. Repeatedly some of the performers scamper up and down the halls. Making sounds. Or move as if underscored by music emanating from surreptitious speakers, partially draped perhaps to show that they acknowledge hidden meaning and, simultaneously, represent some kind of reality.

Several meeting rooms on that floor become settings for short scenes of movement or dialogue. As do a few small alcoves and rooms. Much talk also surfaces in a large, more open space, where, for example, a man identified as Bottom exchanges words with simple hand-puppets whose names suggest Shakespeare’s Mechanicals.

A man resembling Oberon appears to promenade with stateliness at times, or elsewhere to be manhandled. The person implying Titania is also seen in various states of order or bewilderment. In this take on the classic play The King Of Fairies is depicted as having fallen in love with an ass, Bottom. Uh-huh. And two bedazzled couples find their perfect matches in same-sex unions while tied up in ropes. Do not smirk. Laughter does not seem to be the goal in this sampling of the well-known comedy. By the way, another famed character, a non-mischievous Puck takes part.

The cast: Alyc Gabrielle-Beasely, Raydell Cordell III, Lena Lucia Elliott, Aaron Ellis, Kat Fackler, Malik Deshon Fortner, John Hatcher, Caulene Hudson, Stephanie Huettner, Anna Jordan, Matthew Karasek, Eric Lawson, Joy Marshall, Dulcie Mueller, Shawn Newburn, JaTaun Markel Pratt, Jonathan Purcel, Jessica Thigpen and Kelsi Weston.

Choreographers are Kat Fackler and Stephanie Huettner (TBD Dance Collective). Homero Vela created the technical effects, set and lighting for the set dressed by Lucia Milone. The costumes originated with Jenny Pool and properties were designed by Joy Marshall. Miles Taber constructed the puppets. The production’s sound design is by Andrew Heringer (Chop Shops Records), featuring songs by Azure Ray (Saddle Creek Records).

Comfortable shoes are recommended.

Of course, you need not know A Midsummer Night’s Dream to follow this, since creator, adapter, director Spencer Williams encourages you to see, hear, feel and understand whatever fancy takes you, wherever you choose to walk, stand or sit.  “I hope that our audiences can share in a mysterious modern wilderness,” he commented, “one that shows us if we look closer at things we would normally pass by, when we open ourselves to the feared and unknown, doors will open in… In so many ways.”

Walk the Night: Vision of Shadows unfolds through Oct.29, ConAgra Foods Headquarters, Building 1, 908 ConAgra Drive. Weds.-Sat.: 7 p.m. & 8:30 pm. Pre shows: 6:30 & 8:15 pm. $20 for one part, $35 for two. http://www.walkthenightwithme.com/.www.bluebarn.org


Category: Stage

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