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The Source Festival offers more than innovative theater. In addition to its full-length plays, there are strings of 10-minute plays where playwrights struggle with a truncated length, and then there are “Artistic Blind Dates,” which are weirder still. In the Blind Dates, artists from different disciplines collaborate for six months on a unique piece of theater. Momentum, Interrupted was inspired by Lake Untersee, a full-length play that’s partially set in Antarctica. It doesn’t have a story, exactly, yet there are enough creative moments to justify this kind of artistic exploration.
Nobody sits down for the Blind Date. Instead, the audience is taken into a room where Styrofoam plates are scattered on the floor, and three people sit in different corners of the room. Once the audience settles into the space, the show begins. A dancer writhes around the space, looking unhinged, and then she does some uncomfortable things with a tray of ice cubes. An actor looks at us contentedly, writing phrases like “Hello, how are you?” on paper with a Sharpie. When the audience does not react to his messages, he grows increasingly desperate. Then there’s a third woman who conducts an interview with a cardboard boat.
Parts of Momentum, Interrupted are like the clichéd performance pieces you’d find at a middling art college. The performers stare into the audience, and they’re so serious that stifling unintentional laughter is difficult. But by meeting the performers halfway, some interesting ideas about creation and loneliness emerge.
The actor with the Sharpie proved the most engaging: Like the cartoons of Don Hertzfeldt, he used simplistic drawings to reach a darker point about what might happen when the fourth wall is broken. After the 20-minute performance, the performers chatted with the audience about their process, and the Sharpie actor got the most attention. He explained how in previous performances, he would adapt his writing to the audience reaction. (Apparently we were much more passive than the others.) The other two performers had compelling moments too: The dancer’s confidence is oddly terrifying, and the visual artist has moments of comedy by playing her “character” completely straight.
Moment, Interrupted lasts for 20 minutes, plus another 10 for the talk after. It’s rare to see a performance where creative people take such admirable risks, even if it’s for a short time and for a small audience.
Photo by Flickr user mikelao26 used under a Creative Commons license