Friday, May 4, 2012

Yara in lands of dreamy dreams

L-R: Andrew Colteaux, Ainura Kachkynbek kyzy, Christopher Ignacio and Kat Yew     
(Photo: Margaret Morton)

Virlana Tkacz's Yara Arts Group, a longtime, beloved resident troupe at La MaMa, already serves as a visible, tangible "collective unconscious" for us, a gossamer repository of sound, imagery and story from the far reaches of human culture. The company's new piece, Dream Bridge--a multidisciplinary and polyglot collaboration with artists from Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan--offers sensory pleasures as might be expected from a reimagining of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream as well as some jarring elements. In other words, it is the stuff that dreams are made on.

The piece basically visualizes two works by celebrated Ukrainian poet Oleh Lysheha. It's a bit awkward that, as part of the program, the audience must be instructed to take time to read the translated poems right before the piece starts, while Kyrgyz musician Nurbek Serkebaev plucks spare notes from a stringed instrument. I happened to finished reading just in time but still felt that I had not completely absorbed and processed the poetry. Worse still, I was still in the grip of jet lag--which feels like, at a certain hour, an invisible hand reaches out and gives my dimmer switch a decisive downward turn--and felt myself drifting in and out of awareness as the gentle-toned, lulling Dream Bridge and its fairytale-like plot moved swiftly along. I was lost, and I feel pretty bad about that. 

I most clearly recall a pristine cluster of drifty, floaty characters, a man (Andrew Colteaux) trying in vain to sleep while curved over a rigid arch and, most impressively, a truly enchanting emergence of shadow puppets which I won't spoil by describing. I wanted more time with those puppets, but the piece was over, and it was time to go out into the jarring streets--East Village on a Thursday night? OMG--where a sudden, completely irrational craving for potato chips led me to the less-soothing sensory overload of St. Mark's Place.

Tkacz's productions have sometimes deeply moved me. While I suspect that Dream Bridge would probably never have as profound an effect on me as, say, Howling--her 2002 piece inspired by ancient shamanic legends about wolves and a Wolf clan from Siberia--her projects are always worth a look. You can catch Dream Bridge now through May 13, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2:30 PM. Get more information, ticketing and directions here.

Created by Virlana Tkacz. Kyrgyz traditional music performed live by Nurbek Serkebaev and an electronic score by Kyiv composer Alla Zahaykevych. Performed by Yara actors Andrew Colteaux, Brian Dolphin and Christopher Ignacio plus Kyrgyz actors Kenzhegul Satybaldieva, Ainura Kachynbek kyzy and Ukrainian actor Mykola Shkaraban. Designed by Watoku Ueno.

La MaMa E.T.C. (First Floor Theater)
74 East 4th Street (between Bowery and 2nd Avenue), Manhattan

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