Saturday, March 26, 2011

Behind The Bullseye, A Performance by The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre Incubator in New York (2010)

I have no idea why, one year ago, I forgot to publish a post about "Behind the Bullseye", a performance by one of the young companies which have worked with The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, the mythic Richard Foreman's lab and studio in New York. Whatever has been the cause I am here now writing about it.

I wasn't really impressed (theatrically) by this work but more by its energy and idea of theatre. This kind of groups keep American experimental theatre alive, they has been (and they are) an important source of experimentation and new ways to do things and, the most important, they are absolutely open to expose on stage problems of our society, of our bodies and our minds, without those economic worries of any other theatre, two blocks from there, about ticket sales, stars cast, and thinks alike.

Program of "Behind The Bullseye" by The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre Incubator.

This is what The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre's page says about its Incubator:

"Beginning in 1993, the Ontological-Hysteric Theater, in addition to its primary support of the work of Richard Foreman, opened its doors to emerging, independent artists. Since 1993 the emerging artists program at the Ontological took many forms, including the Obie-winning Blueprint Series for emerging directors. In 2005, the OHT reorganized the programs under the name INCUBATOR, creating a series of linked programs to provide young theater artists with resources and support to develop process-oriented, original theatrical productions. By 2010, the program had quadrupled in size, involving a range of artists and increased support. The programs included the centerpiece Residency program for premieres, two annual music festivals, a regular concert series, a serial work-in-progress program called Short Form, and roundtables and salons aimed at keeping Incubator artists involved year-round. In May, 2010, the Incubator received an OBIE grant."

Poster at The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre Incubator. (By Gustavo Thomas. New York, 2010)

And this is what the same page says about "Behind the Bullseye":

"BEHIND THE BULLSEYE is an original interdisciplinary theatre work; fusing elements of theatre, film, journalism and installation art to examine the shopping habits of Brooklyn residents. The Target store at Atlantic Terminal Mall (Brooklyn) is used as a focal point around which to explore what lies beneath the collective shopping experiences of consumers across diverse ethnic and class backgrounds. This Target store has emerged as a defining location where residents from various neighborhoods converge to obtain their basic necessities. With the advent of gentrification across various neighborhoods bordering this location, the Target store itself has evolved into an engine of displacement for neighborhood stores. This latest work from Sponsored By Nobody is a chamber play for the American consumer – or – how we are able to buy what we want when we want.
SPONSORED BY NOBODY is a Brooklyn-based theatre company committed to developing original work that is relevant to contemporary America. Founded in 2005, SBN has established a reputation in New York for presenting abrasive, engaging theatre while refusing to relinquish the idea of art as a catalyst for social change. While rooted in theatre, SBN incorporates multiple disciplines in its work -- borrowing from dance, film, music and installation art -- while employing both found-texts and original writing."

"Behind The Bullseye" by The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre Incubator.
(By Gustavo Thomas. New York, 2010)

"Behind The Bullseye" by The Ontological-Hysteric Theatre Incubator.
(By Gustavo Thomas. New York, 2010)

After watching the play I took some isolated notes:

- Me, spectator: I am a consumer, I know it, and they know it.

- They talk about all of us as consumers. 

- The Sellers: Our life is in their hands, as employees, as consumers. 

- Our life is in sale, but it's worth nothing. 

- A supermarket universe could be a metaphor of our life itself, of our own universe. 

- Our chaos is a play by the big merchandisers, our life is a game by them as well; but we don't know them and nobody wants to know them; all of us live in the same chaos, selling, bargaining, dreaming about sales, about new acquisitions during sales. 

- We are only consumers, we know it and we can not do anything to avoid it.

- Packages are object of entertainment, fulfilling our simple life; packages give to us color and shapes.

- We don't have our life anymore, we don't remember how we lost it inside a supermarket.

- A supermarket employee is a Shakespearian character: he has the power but "the wheel of power" is working there, tomorrow it will come the next and he will be out.

- Working at a supermarket really really sucks!

I saw "Behind the Bullseye" during a short trip to New York in January 2010, at its former venue (till end of 2010) 'The Onthological-Hysteric Theatre Incubator' inside St. Mark's Church in the East Village.

I'd like to add a curious detail of that evening: among the 50 spectators (more or less) it was Peter Brook, the English stage director. Short as he is and with those unmistakable eyes of him, it seemed he was looking once again for the avant-guard in the young generation of theatre outsiders. Good for him.

BEHIND THE BULLSEYE -- 2009/2010 promo trailer from Kevin Doyle on Vimeo.

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