According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Brains and Puppets

It’s admirable when a performance aims big –- takes on a hefty subject in an original fashion. Brains and Puppets is just that –- two one-acts exploring brain disorders through puppetry. Unfortunately, these short shows fall… short.

Review by Amanda Cooper

First up, The Boy Who Wanted To Be a Robot, focuses on a young boy with Asperger’s syndrome living in the nonspecific future, in a nonspecific place. This young boy lives with robots, and he identifies in every way (except for the makeup of his actual body) with robots. When he finally meets another human being, a young girl, he doesn’t seem to connect, or understand this other humankind. This pseudo-fairy tale has lovely puppets (designed by Barry Weil and Tanya Khordoc), and an interesting interpretation of a possible future for our species. But the storyline provides no insight into Asperger’s syndrome – commonly thought of as a mild form of autism. Additionally, though the performer, Barry Weil, knows his way around puppets, as a stage performer he is rigid, and oddly loud.

The more successful short is The Taste of Blue, an exploration of the mind of a young girl who has synesthesia, a brain disorder which causes someone to perceive certain sensations as other sensations – that sounds have colors, that tastes have sounds, etc. Performer Tanya Khordoc is also not the most skilled actor – there is an air of uneasiness to her onstage demeanor – but this time, the design concept paired with this portrait of a young girl is effective. As she explains her world to us through colors, and how those colors “taste” to her, these hues are shown onstage via shadowboxes, overhead projectors, and other unique design elements. This time, I understood – or felt like I understood – a bit of what it might be like to have synesthesia. Both pieces are written by Edward Einhorn, but he’s succeeded with The Taste of Blue because his focus is less on telling a story and more on showing a person.

It’s heartening to see artists pushing themselves – having tall aspirations for their work. But it’s also important to know one’s limits as artists in order to ultimately create the best work possible.

Brains and Puppets
Presented by Untitled Theater Company #61
March 1- 15, Saturdays at 6pm, Sundays at 3pm
Walkerspace Theater, 46 Walker St

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