Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Discrete Series 5/6/05

Originally uploaded by .Kerri..

Most of Chicago missed an excellent performance of Robert Quillen Camp's play for PA, piano and headphones, "Days of Rage." Referencing the failed coup by the Weathermen, the play takes place in present day New York, following a bunch of would-be activists who intermittently get high, wrangle a captive tiger, pick up girls and plan a revolution. While the sixties era of activism is mythologized into fiction and Bush-era activism seeks coherence and legitimacy, Days of Rage is a witty take on the contradictions of this new, more cynical, generation of insurgency. Two revolutionaries in the play attempt to woo a few monsters to their ranks with the offer of revolution-commemorating T-shirts. They argue about the message, finally insisting on something concise: "War No, Monsters Yes." Or just "Monsters" so they can wear the shirts on other occasions.

The audio is pre-recorded bi-aurally and the resulting experience for the listener (each equipped with her own headphones) is a 3-D environment of sound. The medium is one that reassesses the standard theater-going experience for the better. As the live component, RQC plays a live piano soundtrack, at times being drawn into the drama as a Sudanese roommate of one of the activists who responds to the banter of the revolutionaries in his living room with a cycle of "chopsticks." Quill gave 2 notable performances this evening, playing with one arm in a sling after dislocating a shoulder just hours before. His next project is another piece for headphones, but one to be performed by individuals in their own homes. By downloading the audio, listeners will experience the action via instructions of things to do/perform in the privacy of their own homes.

I would have wished the members of Chicago's thriving literary and arts communities had taken advantage of seeing this unique performance. It was not for a lack of publicity. Our city must suffer from the unfortunate malady of too much high quality arts programming.


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