T:BA Digest Day 9: What Really Cooks?

Wednesday and Thursday were days off, other than co-hosting that radio program Wednesday morning.  As much as I needed the time to catch up on my blog and other aspects of professional life, it was also a disappointment in other ways. Mostly, I wanted to catch Sam Green and Yo La Tango doing the Buckminster Fuller performance. Parenthetical Girls would have been nice also. But sometimes it takes time to make time. Oh by the way, I have stopped taking notes at performances. The remaining reviews are hopefully gestalt, related by memory. We start at the Winningstad Theater, Friday.

Faustin Linyekula performs About Le Cargo, a dance about a story told in sparse passages about learning to dance in his home village Obilo, in the Congo. He enters the stage holding a small wooden carved stool in the shape of a small primate and two books about Africa. Relating the story of returning to his village for the sake of recalling dance from early life, Faustin is rediscovering himself while developing his current life as an international storyteller and dancer.

The place that he goes with dance set to music by Obilio Drummers, inside a circle of stage lights casting dimensions of shadows on the high walls of Winningstad, really carried the dreams of his life to the atmosphere, breathing those memories. There is not a great deal more to say about it, though I could. It was a simple and true performance; there is not a lot of confusion or blurring of meaning to work through. If you are present, then you gain the meaning, so the words don’t describe.

There is quite a bit more to say about Gob Squad: Hilarious.

Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had it So Good) is a spoof of Warhal’s Kitchen with live stage actors behind projector screens, producing three video feeds on the spot. Before seating, you are shuffled through the sound stage so that you can see it happening live. They had toast with peanut butter on the kitchen table, only about ten pieces and about four hundred of us, so most people passed it by, but as a journalist, I had to take it. They shuffled me off to the side momentarily, low and behold Linda Austin again, chewing on toast and peanut butter — it is natural for the performer to partake in the performance. I spotted beer and asked for one. They were tempted but did not do it. I think they were looking for future victims to their bit.

Each screen is spoofing a different Warhol film: Kitchen, Sleep, Kiss, and Screentest, but there are only four actors and they war over which parts to play, interchanging between films. As a production, it was very well built but the slapstick and overacting and haphazard way about which these sort of idiots went about trying to make this film got to be over the top, always funny and very clever – they are not actually idiots. I never heard of these folks before, but I’d have them over any day.

As the film continues along, it gets more interesting as members of the audience are pulled behind stage to replace the original performers. Wearing these ridiculous headsets, receiving lines from the actors now seated in the audience, also wearing wireless headsets, the strangers take over. It was amazing to think they could really pull off the performances and deliver. These audience members did it though, unless of course they were plants and it’s just a façade, but I like to believe not so, especially because the humor really compiles when the amateurs are up there following orders. The only character remaining on screen by the end is Sarah. She recreates Kiss with a complete stranger. She doesn’t seem particularly attracted to the guy. He’s nice enough, seems pretty likeable, but also that he’s not her type. They both crack up during the kiss, making it impossible, but she is committed, so she gets in the mood. Then it’s basically over.

Thu Tran/Food Party was a crowd pleaser. It’s Friday, there has been lot’s of heavy material out there, a great deal of discussion on politics and economy, let’s relax and watch this little cute Vietnamese stoner girl put food under a black light and chuckle at herself constantly while making absurd dishes, using a microwave and deep fryer. She has videos too! She makes a turd burger and feeds it to a man in a mouse suit.What is a turd burger? Ground beef with Kraft American Cheese in the middle, molded by hand to look like a turd, fried to perfection, better than a hot-dog. That was only a video; she passed around a dish, melted fruity pebbles and marshmallows with emergency powder. As a journalist, I had to try it. And it was very sweet. One bite. No more, thank you.

The Biergarten was really cookin’, socially that is. There was that familiar end-of-the-festival-hair-down feeling and genuine desire to engage. The T:BA crowd is always so insular but well behaved, but also spontaneous and full of characters. The brilliance of THE WORKS is that it is mostly an all-access event. The artists assemble there if you can find an in, there is nothing stopping you from accessing them. Many festivals have the VIP only section with the good booze complimentary for the pass holder. I appreciate that about this party, it belongs to everyone. WHS’ front lawn became a bar; all you needed was identification, nothing else.




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