Beginning, Begin Again: Multimedia Improvisation

My first thought at the end of Beginning, Begin Again on Monday, November 16, 2009 was, “Whoa!  I’ve never seen anything like that at UA!”  But then I realized that was not accurate.  I had never seen anything like that anywhere!  The intimate space of the Allen Bales Theatre was the perfect choice for this type of performance.   Contemporary art was hung from various parts of the ceiling and the lights were low.  As you walked to your seat before the performance, the feeling of being “somewhere else” was already at hand.  

Reciting lines from his poetry, Hank Lazer was the first to speak.  Then, before you knew it, all of the artists on stage were collaborating.  It was very interesting to watch them get into the groove.  Somehow, very organically, each performer instinctively knew when it was time to be the focus of the attention.  The ebb and flow of their expressions could be felt by everyone in the theatre.  The energy was so intense that I didn’t want to move for fear of disrupting the power of the moment.  

Coming from the stand point of a classical musician, it was so refreshing to see art that represented the here and now.  So many times you go to a performance where there is a barrier between you and the performers.  What was so special about Beginning, Begin Again was that no disconnect was there.  The artists were completely exposed and free.  I think it was this vulnerability that was so inviting for the audience.  And, in return, it felt like the performers were “vibing” off the energy of the audience.

It was quite humbling to watch as each performer became a vessel of expression.   So many of us find ourselves trapped by one means or another; I felt it was very cathartic to watch each performer having the courage to convey with such conviction what was inside of them.  Even more so, to have the privilege of watching your professors and mentors go to that “special place” was such a unique opportunity.

Thank you to all of the UA faculty and local artists who took part in this exceptional art experience: Jake Berry, poetry; Jennifer Caputo, percussion; Rich Curtis, sound performance; Andrew Raffo Dewar, saxophone; Brian Elliott, lighting/tech; Chris Kozak, double bass; Celeste LaBourde, dance; Hank Lazer, poetry; Stella Nystrom, dance; Susan Perry, visual arts; Neal Riley, video; Wayne Sides, percussion; LaDonna Smith, violin. Bravo!