My desire to see Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s performance has been slowly building throughout the festival as I’ve repeatedly paged through my TBA guide. First, I noticed that the company’s name, cribbed from Kafka, is a small piece of linguistic perfection; it started running through my head every once in while, on repeat, like a lyric from a song. Then the beautiful man staring out provocatively from page 32 managed to single-handedly destroy the last shred of my once-powerful resistance to the virulent indie beard craze. Eventually, I began to hear rumors that Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Poetics: a ballet brut was really, really good. And it was.
Broadly funny, but also highly nuanced, Poetics was really refreshing in a way that’s hard to pin down. It was like a celebration of the obsolescence of standard theatrical conventions. There was nothing ponderous or self-congratulatory about the performers as they broke the fourth and possibly even some sort of fifth wall, incorporating what sounded like genuine laughter into the performance, seating the audience on the stage, staging social tension around paper coffee to-go cups, smoking, making out. Oh, speaking of making out, please don’t TBA audience members! It’s very distracting. My TBA buddy was trapped behind a team of art enthusiasts we’ve spotted making out at previous TBA events and expect to see making out at future TBA events as well unless people start throwing things at them, light, blunt objects, nothing that would cause any real harm, as she was very tempted to before ultimately choosing restraint.
Back to Nature Theater: this is a hard performance to get into, but well worth the effort. Thanks to a tip from a kind PICA blogger, I arrived 45 minutes early, pass in hand, and was still one of the last people seated.
Jessica Bromer