Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hot! sometimes not!

The heat and the Hot! (Festival, that is) continue. But choose wisely.

Exactly two valuable things came out of time spent with Black Took Collective's Live Feed of A Black Unconscious last evening--shelter from a rainstorm and hearing a bit of Nina Simone's Lilac Wine at the tail end of the trio's performance.

Duriel E. Harris, Dawn Lundy Martin and Ronaldo V. Wilson describe themselves as "Black post-theorists who perform and write in hybrid experimental forms, embracing radical poetics and cutting-edge critical theory about race, gender and sexuality." They've taken their work all across the nation. The Dixon Place listing describes Live Feed of A Black Unconscious as "a multi-media performance interrogating the possibility and repercussions of, a black queer unconscious...a radical performance of poetics in order to problematize the claims about being black and queer that many of us hold dear."

All-a-dat translates into a tedious hour of watching the trio working at their Macs, improvising and clumsily tweaking nonsensical blocks of text, vocalizing, and running an aimlessly goofy video. And they're totally lame at jumping Double Dutch, too. This is the queer black unconscious? Fine. Got it. Hit Delete.

Writer-director Jeff McMahon's 74-minute satire Straight Talk (a work-in-regression) opened my very long night with Dixon Place. Its cleverness sometimes frayed my nerves, and it overstayed its welcome. But it shows off McMahon's deft, even daredevil writing and a quicksilver ensemble of actors--Grace Abbot, Salty Brine, Mikeah Earnest Jennings, Alenka Kraigher, Daniel Allen Nelson and Elina Zavala--portraying a shifting assortment of young folks talking about hook-ups they have or might like to have, what they think about themselves and about others. They negotiate McMahon's torrent of words, often at physical and emotional fever pitch, without tripping on their tongues and hurting themselves. There's a certainly huge, huge amount of unconscious here--some of it black, some of it queer, quite a bit of it straight but suspect. A couple of sections--the opener featuring Brine and Kraigher; a later duet for Jennings and Nelson--work brilliantly, and I'd happily revisit them.

See McMahon's Straight Talk (a work-in-regression) tonight at 7:30pm.


Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street (Rivington and Delancey Streets), Manhattan

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