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.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Review: “TRACES/fades” By Jonathan Cristaldi

Lenora Champagne’s latest piece, “TRACES/fades” was presented as a work-in-progress at Here’s Culturemart 2006 over two nights this past week.

Situated in a space that evokes an assisted living center, TRACES/fades is a meditation on Alzheimer’s disease and our national inability to remember history. The characters are “stuck” somewhere between the way things were and the way things are. The text is at times natural with deliberate poignancy intended to arouse nostalgia for a physical past that is being erased by technology: hand-writing letters, crocheting, etc. Other times, characters talk directly at the audience as if each in their own time has a great narration to impart, constantly fading however, never materializing.

Champagne is known for employing the unexpected in her work, and this piece is no exception. Though not billed as a musical, there is singing with original compositions by Daniel Levy. Very funny and satirical in the spontaneity of the songs, the lyrics however, are affective, politically charged, and hard to swallow: “I had a son in the war/which war?/ big war/the Arabs didn’t kill him/friendly fire did.”

Televisions on the right and left side of the stage project static images, eerie in composition, of a hand scribbling in elegant script, vast landscapes of ice and water, old houses – metaphors for memories, or traces of memories, disconnected and weathered by time.

The latest development of TRACES/fades is very successful in evoking resonant feelings of unrest for the ongoing war in Iraq, the hypocrisy with which our government conducts itself, and the degradation of the mind and what is expected from the minds of today. Champagne will continue to develop this work as a HARP (HERE Artist’s Residency Program) artist at Here Arts Center.

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