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In Performance: Karen Sherman’s One With Others at American Realness (New York)

© Karen Sherman

© Karen Sherman

The Brutalist architecture of Abron’s Underground Theatre is the perfect setting for Karen Sherman’s exploration of using and being used. The stark concrete walls pair well with the simple machines employed by the performers: old-fashioned overhead projectors, an iron, pieces of wood secured with bolts or hooks. Carrie Wood’s stark lighting throws larger-than-life shadows of the performers onto the blank walls, giving the sense that there is more to be seen than what is immediately tangible.

Despite the simplicity of the trappings, One With Others is anything but elementary. The performance contains an intriguing combination of the delicate and precise (such as the painstaking faux-surgery on a water-filled glove) with the intentionally rough and unfinished (such as an improv scenario in which the players continuously interrupt, replace, and correct on another). This juxtaposition served as a reminder that while the audience may feel a connection with the performers, they are also using them: projecting their own interpretations and meanings onto the bodies of strangers.

American Realness continues at the Abrons Arts Center through January 18th.

Performed by Joanna Furnans, Aaron Mattocks, Karen Sherman
Lighting Design Carrie Wood
Sound Design, Scenic Design, Prop Design & Construction Karen Sherman
Original Music/Sound Karen Sherman with Jeffrey Wells, Dave Snyder, Joanna Furnans, Karen Fennell
Text Karen Sherman, Joanna Furnans, Jeffrey Wells, Aaron Mattocks, Claudia LaRocco, Nami Mun, Hope Fortenzer
Additional Voiceovers Claude Bleton, Hope Forstenzer
Video Karen Sherman and Andrew Welken
Costumes Tulle & Dye
Stage Manager Emily McGillicuddy
Technical Sorcerer Janet D. Clancy

One with Others was made possible in part with a research and development residency and co-production support by Vermont Performance Lab with funding support from the New England Foundation for the Art’s National Dance Project with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and VPL’s Creation Fund donors. The creation of One with Others was supported by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with the New England Foundation for the Arts through the National Dance Project. Major support for NDP is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation. Additional support for One with Others comes from The Jerome Foundation, The Map Fund, InRez at Studio 206, the MN State Arts Board, and many generous individuals. One with Others is a sponsored project of Springboard for the Arts, a nonprofit arts service organization.

Write-up by Margo Gray

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