The Alternate Reality Inside Your Head, Inside a Party

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I Should Have a Party for All the Thoughts I Didn’t Say comes from Source Material.

When you’re out some place and you aren’t feeling up for the world’s cheery veneer, the internal dialogue of loneliness and despair can amplify. Surrounded by vivacious music and terrific booze hounds while you’re not feeling that mood, your thoughts become magnified against the backdrop of celebration. They remain totally contained though, invisible, so you don’t let on and you carry on. If there is an alternate dimension where that party is taking place, then Source Material Collective has conjured it up and put it on display for you.

The term “interdisciplinary” is still something I struggle with, because in a way, everything is and always has been that. A theatre performance always involves some kind of soundtrack, lighting, maybe dance, but theatre is considered a single discipline. So even when I see so-called interdisciplinary theatre, it is not that different from traditional theatre. Having also witnessed A Thousand Tongues recently at Fertile Ground Festival, I can say they have developed a kind of style that interweaves the disciplines collaboratively while going deeper with style. I think Source Material lives up to its name in the essence of their work.

The depths of darkness within I Should Have a Party for All the Thoughts I Didn’t Say can feel like a deep sea submarine: It carries you in a safe space to observe that scary world, and you know you must eventually rise. The method involves actors dancing to choreography; singers acting, and so on, while each member brings a concentrated discipline to the collective. The product is a form of theatre that satisfies a certain itch for something that carries you away, yet is engaging of all your senses.

We are seated within rows of pews awaiting a show to begin at The Old Church, downtown Portland. Artistic Director, Samantha Shay, walks out onto the stage and sits at the fantastic pipe organ, reflected in a mirror about two feet from her face. She sets off a drone (a single note played indefinitely). Actors embedded in the audience start performing, one by one. It quickly becomes creepy as the first to move goes about shuffling around and pacing up and down the aisles maniacally, but gracefully.

Another woman, performed by Jocelyn Suarez, begins shouting self-affirming statements like, I did everything right! I am considerate! I am generous! I am always on time! Or stuff like that, as if in a nervous breakdown, or perhaps like she has been betrayed. Her performance is tremendous. I felt like she was a housewife, and a fantastic one, but her backstory isn’t revealed, just the inner torment.

Everyone is dressed in elegant black funeral attire. The drone gets louder, deeper. Songs begin to erupt. Overlapping rhythms weave in an immersive ambience entirely composed of vocal work derived from international folk music. The resulting sound is a fully analogue dreamscape as voices surround you; nobody is on the stage.

When this bizarre experience congeals and climaxes in the form of a music concert performed within the audience, we are ushered into the adjacent room, and we must step over the wailing woman to get there.

We are placed into chairs around the perimeter. Tables are pushed into place and it feels a little like buckling into a rollercoaster. In the center, there is a table where the cast pivots about. It is a surreal party. The choreography, music, and acting that ensues carries on this theme of a bizarre reality where the invisible, the repressed, and the denied live.

Nothing more should be revealed about the work, despite the fact that it is the sort of thing that I can’t really give away the ending for because the story is projected from your own judgements. By that I mean, all is implied, so your own viewpoint becomes the narrative.

Source Material is a new company in town. As we see an influx of newbies to Portland, we must discriminate between those who can get down, are solid, and have something to offer, versus those who don’t care about our creative culture. What we have here is a young and promising interdisciplinary ensemble that I look forward to observing in the coming years.

I Should Have a Party for All the Thoughts I Didn’t Say runs through Tuesday, February 9, 8:00 pm, at The Old Church.




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