Assembly Hall: Motion to Dissolve

publicity photo for Assembly Hall, Kidd Pivot

Renée Sigouin in Assembly Hall (photo©Michael Slobodian)

Gosh. So many great things.

Assembly Hall, the latest creation from choreographer Crystal Pite and playwright Jonathon Young, is so narratively eccentric it will resonant in different ways for every person who sees it. Let me tell you a bit about what it meant to me.

First, the container. In the set-up, we realize we’re watching the annual general meeting of a medieval re-enactment society, the General Assembly of the Benevolent and Protective Order. The society has fallen on hard times — rising costs, dwindling membership — and they’re going to vote on whether to dissolve the organization. They’ve tried it before and have always ended up tabling the motion.

But we’re not in a literal reality. Like other works from Pite and Young, this is a dance/theatre hybrid. So the eight characters’ voices are recorded and, when we hear that speech, the onstage performers, the dancers, don’t just lip sync the words, they embody them with exaggerated postures and flamboyant gestures. The effect is simultaneously operatic and camp.

The text isn’t mundane either, although it’s concerned with mundanity. When the chair of the society asks if they have quorum, the vice chair notes that every member contains three, including one who leads and one who comes after. She says something like, “In the one, there is a multitude. And, in the multitude, there is one.” So they have quorum. [Read more…]

Crystal Pite’s Body and Soul

Crystal Pite's Body and Soul is playing at the Paris Opera

“She has shown us before how skilled she is at evoking both the individuality of the mass and the individual within the mass.”(Photo by Julien Benhamou, Opéra d Paris)



What has made Crystal Pite “one of the dance world’s most sought-after artists” (The Guardian) is not simply the ravishing movement sequences that she invents. Her dance-works are animated thoughts about the complicated miracle of being human in the universe—ongoing statements from an evolving worldview. She seems to want to touch the core of meaning, to glimpse, even for a moment, the why of it all (or not even that—the what of it all, the mechanics of existence). Through simple and unaffected images and metaphors that she manufactures from the unique language of human physicality—from dance—she invites us to join her in considering the enduring mysteries of the human condition. [Read more…]

Revisor: conceptually seductive, emotionally not so much

Kidd Pivot is presenting Revisor at the Vancouver Playhouse.

The guy is on fire: Doug Letheren as the Deputy. (Photo by Michael Slobodian. Costume by Nancy Bryant)




I was dazzled by the skill, intellectually intrigued, and emotionally and viscerally removed.

With Revisor, writer Jonathon Young and choreographer Crystal Pite sink deep into Nikolai Gogol’s play, which is best known as The Inspector General.

Gogol’s 1842 script was inspired by a Russian story that might be true. When the Deputy (or Mayor) of a small town gets a tip that a government inspector is about to arrive incognito, the Deputy and his fellow officials madly scramble to cover up their corruption and misdeeds. When the bureaucrats mistake a minor civil servant for the inspector, the clerk recognizes their error, happily accepts their bribes—and plots to expose them.

Revisor employs two main stylistic modes. In the first, the performers lip sync to recordings of actors speaking Young’s dialogue, while embodying the characters with extreme expressionistic movement. It’s kind of like a drag version of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. [Read more…]

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