The Playgoer: Sad Kidstuff and Guitars.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sad Kidstuff and Guitars.

by chris mills

It was almost like sad visitation or something. I was at work, feeling ill (some summer bug) and I logged onto my iGoogle. And there, under PS122 was a listing for The Lastmaker; I thought: who is doing a show with a title so related to Goat Island's final show? But, of course, it is not related, it IS the Goat Island show and it is happening in November and it means that the end is inevitable. Because, you see, The Lastmaker is the last performance that this Chicago-based performance copmapny will do and it will mean that one of the, truly, most interesting companies in the country—together for twenty years—is saying goodbye.

As one of the reviews (the work opened in England, toured to Germany and Croatia) describes “The idea of finality and endings runs through the piece, from excerpts of Lenny Bruce’s last performances to Bach’s Art of the Fugue and the music of Nick Drake.” Wrapped in the architectural inspiration of Instanbul’s Hagia Sophia, a building which has operated as a Byzantine church, a mosque and as a museum (where once, I stood in a dusty side aisle and watched as the most gigantic chandelier I’d ever seen—at least 30 feet in diameter with about 10 rings of candle holders (taper candles, mind you, no little votives here)—was lowered and lit by hand and then slowly rehoisted to the ceiling, providing the warmest, most alive, clearest light I think I’ve ever seen—that’s the way to see the sacred) offers the kind of deep readability that this group excels in excavating. Their work is underwritten with layered philosophical engagement and they are welcomed around the world, especially in Europe. In the 20 years they’ve been together, they have made NINE full-length pieces. Each one bright, vibrant, intellectually challenging and physically sharp and gorgeous. The show doesn't open until November, and I’ll have more about this sad development, but until then, you can check out the accompanying writing project, The Last Performance, helmed by Judd Morrisey, and involving, at last count, 136 writers.

What is weird is that after I was hit in the informational solar plexus and I went back to find it later, it was gone (gone! I tell you!) and still is. Perhaps the universe is giving me little lead time…which I pass on to you.

On a happier note, a new Edith Freni play is opening! Tickets are on sale for Kidstuff, directed by Erica Gould and presented by Partial Comfort. Freni’s writing is fast and funny, and she tackles the weird workings of interpersonal relationships like no one I know. And I don’t mean that in a chick flick way. Sardonic, smart and laced with a gritty, secret hope, her plays roll around in a range of emotion, and contemporary issues, leaving the audience wiser, which they won’t realize it until later, when they stop quoting the lines…

Last: three cheers to fellow New Yorkers who hunkered down under umbrellas, tarps, papers and any other rain-deflecting detritus last Friday night. We were all there for the Eight Hundred Years of Minimalism show, curated by the great Bill Bragin (of Joe’s Pub fame), which included the Rhys Chapman 200 guitars piece that I mentioned here (A Crimson Grail). All the wet waiting paid off as we got, eventually, to hear two thirds of the program and it was terrific. Alas, not the guitars. The amount of necessary electricity ran up against the leftover from that series of torrential downpours and guess what? The water won. Happily for me, I had the amazing joy to hear the sound check for the guitars that afternoon and it was truly breathtaking. Imagine a giant airplane, made of guitars, taxiing the runway, taking off and then flying around above you, doing loops and spins and dips. The sound was awesome (in traditional sense of the word) but also quite modulated and varied. Beautiful. So, keep your ear to the ground for this aborted world premiere, as I imagine it’ll resurface and when it does, I think you’ll wanna be there.

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