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In Performance: Discotropic / NIV ACOSTA at COIL16

Discotropic / NIV ACOSTA (USA)

55 Bethune Street; New York, NY, United States

WED JAN 6, 8:00 PM
FRI JAN 8, 5:00 PM
SAT JAN 9, 3:00 PM & 8:00 PM
SUN JAN 10, 4:00 PM

Running time: 90 minutes

Ticket Price: $20 / $15 Students & Seniors

Come to niv Acosta’s DISCOTROPIC expecting to be pandered to, and you’ll be disappointed. That’s just the way it should be in this performance that blends Star-Trek-flavored parable and club-kid party aesthetics with biting social commentary about the ways that black identities are constructed, performed, and consumed. The performance begins without a clear audience directive. Where to look and where to stand, what’s for us and what’s off-limits is left unclear, so we make up our own rules for viewing and consuming the work and performers on display. But despite the agency afforded us to move and consume freely, the performers remind us that we are only guests here; that our presence is incidental, superfluous, or perhaps even unwelcome. At the same time,DISCOTROPIC suggests that any sense of distance is illusory. That if you can’t connect, it’s you’re own fault; that if you think this is about you, you’re wrong. And because you’re wrong, you’re also kind of right. Like the chorus of “You’re So Vain,”DISCOTROPIC presents a conundrum. By recognizing your own self-centeredness, you repeat the mistake of being self-centered. That a performance manages to do all of this without feeling didactic, condescending, or shaming is something of a marvel. In fact, the performance feels remarkably tongue-in-cheek, even fun, with lush visuals and a sound design that defies you not to bop along. But before the audience can get swept up in club vibes or crooning vocals, the actors subvert it all. Because this piece isn’t about you. The revolution is on, with or without us.

Reviewed by Kevin Ramser (Regional Editor)

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble and network, blog, and publisher, He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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