Thursday, October 24, 2013

WOW! Hey! It's Zimmerman & de Perrot at BAM!

Now that I have seen Zimmermann & de Perrot--and, by that, I mean these two Swiss guys, their whole award-winning team and their production of Hans was Heiri at the BAM Harvey Theater--I never want to not see them.

Look at these guys!

Fellow on the right is Dimitri de Perrot, a composer and DJ. From what I could tell, as the opening night audience assembled, he stealth-recorded our discordant chatter, amplified it to a grating roar, sampled it and mixed it with electronic melodies to play as an overture to the evening. He had us from gggggrrrr!!!

Fellow on the left is Martin Zimmermann, the troupe's choreographer. Why I love him is because his performing reminded me of my tuxedo cat (who has been ailing), from his character's sly, wily personality and lithe acrobatics to his black, open-toed footwear with the paw-like white socks showing. I don't know if he intended to look and behave like a tuxedo cat, but he did.

"We call it theater because we haven’t found a better word," the partners write in their wonderful manifesto, "Our Theater."* This phenomenon combines theater, dance, circus and music, blending it all to a rich consistency presented with panache. They came to my attention when I became interested in learning more about contemporary circus--a performance genre that is all about dissolving boundaries between artistic disciplines and blowing minds.

The troupe is so good--particularly in their acrobatic and contortion skills, but also in the freedom with which they establish their individual, endearing characters and present scenarios that make sense in their fantastical senselessness because they have disarmed us.
Scenes from Hans was Heiri
top, left: Tarek Halaby
top, right: Mélissa von Vépy
with Martin Zimmermann
(photos by Mario del Curto/Strates)

In the central showpiece of Hans was Heiri, the cast occupies a quartet of room-like boxes that fit together, open side facing us. This structure frequently tilts and turns at varying speeds, challenging its human cargo. You know how you discover just how much nerve and muscular specificity it takes to merely walk from one side of a room to the other if you slooooooowww down every movement? Imagine the extraordinary fluidity and agility these performers must have, the precise adjustments they must make when they're sloshing around inside this contraption or poetically dangling from it or acting like they're just sitting around at a table as the box bucks upward or moving through doors in the walls as if they're right at home. Throw in a terrifying power yoga class with the cast stuffed into one of the "rooms" by an out-of-control instructor who has worked with Miguel Gutierrez (that would be American ex-pat Tarek Halaby), and you get a sense of why the creative spunk of this troupe is completely irresistible.

With performances by Dimitri de Perrot, Martin Zimmermann, Tarek Halaby, Dimitri Jourde, Gaël Santisteva, Mélissa von Vépy, Methinee Wongtrakoon

Hans was Heiri continues at BAM Harvey Theater through Saturday with performances at 7:30pm. Click here for more information and ticketing.

BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn



We build our pieces from little things, everyday things, things that happen when a person feels unobserved—we hunt them out and gather them together. And that’s where we go to discover characters, spaces, sounds—a small gasp, a moment of distractedness, a constriction of the heart.

For our pieces we use everything that comes our way, and let it work its way through the meat grinder.

We call it theater because we haven’t found a better word.

We like distortion, we turn everything upside down.

We seek the possible in the impossible.

We risk and we fail.

We like little things. For us, objects are living beings.

We are little wannabe greats who are suddenly in over our heads.

We fool around at the edge of the abyss.

We laugh our heads off and are deadly serious.

We ride roughshod over physical pain.

We are extremely diligent and quite painstaking.

We let it rip.

Sweat and tears, good luck and bad.

Dimitri de Perrot and Martin Zimmermann 
from program notes for BAM Next Wave Festival production of Hans was Heiri

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