Vogt slot struggles to challenge any conventions

Union Gallery

Dance routines fail to connect with audience

Genesis, the Story of Evolution is a retelling of the Christian creation story through dance.
Genesis, the Story of Evolution is a retelling of the Christian creation story through dance.

The goal of this year’s Vogt C producers was to challenge traditional theatre conventions. Unfortunately, only one of the four plays even remotely succeeded.

Nell Corrigan, ArtSci’08, oversaw all of the Vogt productions this year as one of the series’ producers. She said each play in the latest installment of Vogt takes a different approach to questioning these conventions.

“[Bittergirl] deals a lot with language,” Corrigan said. “It examines what happens when you have a script that focuses entirely on language.

“[Ouvrez la Porte, Fermez la Bouche] plays with staging conventions, with characters who are on stage together but rarely see each other.”

That’s Good! Very Good! Thank You! and Genesis, the Story of Evolution examine the audience’s relationship to the stage through sound and dance.

Bittergirl, a play that examines how three women come to terms with being dumped, is the most enjoyable play in the series. It begins with a very forward interaction with the audience: the three women, dressed in black, introduce themselves to unsuspecting viewers and engage in idle conversation about their boyfriends, only to be broken up with by said boyfriend in the first scene.

The boyfriend characters are played by one male actor, suggesting that the female roles are perhaps simply representations of one woman’s hardship. Throughout the play, the three nameless women finish each other’s sentences in skits about how they’re recovering. However, their monologues, which describe their daily struggles and inevitable recovery, reveal very different details about their lives.

Bittergirl is funny at times, but ultimately too light-hearted and simple to really challenge any conventions. Dealing with breakups is a story we’ve all heard before, and although it was pleasant to see, the Bittergirl’s storyline was predictable.

Nevena Martinovic’s play about the difficulty of meeting new people was much longer than it should have been. Ouvrez la Porte, Fermez la Bouche is an ongoing conversation between a new apartment tenant and an unwanted party guest. Separated by a door, the new tenant gets to know her unwanted guest without inviting him inside. Without looking at each other, the two argue and converse about being alone.

Dialogue isn’t the play’s strength, which is a shame because it’s also its main element. Instead of offering thought-provoking material, the piece made me question its relevance and hope for it to end. Its only saving grace was Scott Murray, ArtSci ’11, who played the timid and unwanted party guest. Murray’s comic timing saved the audience from being rendered completely indifferent.

The only play to deliver on the series’ theme was Doug Brown’s That’s Good! Very Good! Thank You!. With the lights off, loud and abrasive techno pop filled the theatre. What seemed like a bold introduction turned out to be the premise of the entire play—no lights, no actors, no props and no plot; just sound. Blurring the line between the stage and the audience, Doug Brown’s piece was the only play of the evening to challenge notions of theatre.

“Basically, [Brown’s] piece asks what makes theatre—a captive audience and a stage,” Corrigan said after the play. “What else do you need?”

It’s a conceptual piece of theatre, not an entertaining one. Like an experimental film, you’re likely to remember it but you probably won’t want to experience it again.

Genesis, The Story of Evolution, on the other hand, is something you’ll wish you could forget.

Through a series of lyrical dance routines, the play describes the Christian creation story. Cory Cherdarchuk, ArtSci ’08, and Alain Richer, ArtSci ’09, directed and wrote Genesis, The Story of Evolution, which, they explained, was meant to challenge the viewer’s interaction with the stage.

“A lot of normal theatre is proscenium art,” Cherdarchuk said. “Vogt allows you to encompass a space.” The K-Rock Centre also allows you to encompass a space, and I think Genesis would have been better off at a venue that could house the over-dramatic dancing, flashing lights and bizarre rhythmic chants of the performers. Witnessing this performance was not unlike watching an Enya music video: it was devoid of any substance and exposed the audience to an uncomfortable level of New Age sentiment.

There was no interaction with the audience; if anything, the audience felt alienated by the play’s shallowness. Holding back laughter, I sat through dance routines that were practically parodies of themselves. The only redeeming elements were the abilities of some of the dancers and the Philip Glass soundtrack.

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Vogt C is tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Carruther’s Hall. Tickets are $4.

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