Thursday, September 18, 2014

Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane

Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane, a modern dance piece with aerialist dancers bouncing off a huge UC Hastings wall in the Tenderloin has been performed over the last week, and you only have two more chances to see it, on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8PM. The address is 333 Golden Gate Avenue, just off of Larkin, and it's free.

And you should, since it's a remarkable piece of theater, blessedly short at 30 minutes, spectacular, and dealing with some current, touchy subjects, in this case old women thrown out of their homes onto the streets by the headlong forces of capitalism.

The aestheticizing of poverty and homelesness, with two SFPD officers standing at the entrance to the audience area, in a neighborhood that is filled with crazy street people, is an artistic project that is filled to the brim with contradictions. At first, I was mildly repulsed. The voices of old homeless women, interviewed by KALW reporter Rose Aguilar and woven into an amplified musical score by Pamela Z, felt patronizing and ameliorative. The beautiful young female bodies flying through the air (Marystarr Hope, Becca Dean, Alayna Stroud, Laura Mills, Erin Mei-Ling Stuart and Esther Wrobel) also felt like a precious evocation of real pain. Something changed near the end for me, however, when the musical score became abstract and the dancers started seriously whirling and modernism took over and allowed for complexities of thought and feeling.

The finale brought back the speakers to the score, but this time they were more articulate, and the line that resonated most was not one of victimization but a curse instead: "At age 56, Wells Fargo has thrown me out of my own home and has woken a sleeping dragon." Since Wells Fargo is the corporate sponsor of everything cultural in this city, one has to give the producers credit for courage. The choreography and direction is by Jo Kreiter, and the absolutely exquisite lighting design is by Matthew Antaky. Bring a burrito and a beer, and you will be completely enchanted.

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