Thursday, March 6, 2014

Recommended: Cynthia Hopkins in "A Living Documentary"

Cynthia Hopkins
as her sassiest character in A Living Documentary
(photo by Jeff Sugg)
Whatever enrages, disturbs, and/or frightens me most becomes the subject of my work.
-- Cynthia Hopkins, from her Artist Statement
More intimately enraging, disturbing and frightening than global climate change--a topic Cynthia Hopkins treats in This Clement World--is the abject condition of the serious theater artist attempting to live a healthy life and make meaningful work in New York City. The multiple award-winning Hopkins takes on this issue in her new performance, A Living Documentary, this week at New York Live Arts.

In this quasi-fictional, quasi-autobiographical "documentary," Hopkins transforms herself into a series of comedic characters--veterans of the performing arts scene, for better or for bitter--whose behavior and words maintain a sizzling tension between what's off-putting and what's wise, what's over the top and what's completely down to earth. Their varying points of view on the possibility of a sustainable arts career shape up into a pretty interesting seminar. It's a more bracing kind of career seminar than you might ever imagine attending, with generous helpings of profanity and poignant musical interventions from this irresistible singer/composer.

For her ninety-minute show, Hopkins has adopted the sustainable strategy of simplicity. First, it's a solo. That saves a lot of cash right there. There's recorded music--played on an ancient cassette recorder to boot--and a set and props that look as if they were pulled from her apartment and/or some thrift shop. That's enough when the mission is to call bullshit on the external arts gatekeepers and overseers as well as the internal sabotage agents that conspire to keep artists fearful, passive and broke.

My favorite character, her hilarious motivational speaker-type--rocking rhinestones and a jet black halo of feathers--exhorts us to "act like you're worthy of a prosperous life...act like you're a woman of dignity...even if you're not a woman!" Hopkins knows that while one part of us is smirking, the other part is likely absorbing, that the clown's job has always been to slip around the guards and Make. That. Delivery.

A Living Documentary runs through Saturday with performances at 7:30pm. For more information and tickets, click here.

March 6, 6:30pm -- Come Early Conversation: The Truth Behind A Living Documentary. Moderated by Paul Lazar

March 7 -- Stay Late Discussion: No-nonsense - Discussing the Economy of Art-Making. Annie-B Parson in conversation with Cynthia Hopkins

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Manhattan

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