Russell says goodbye, Edwards says hello.
Blog and Photos by Wayne Bund
Despite the lack of audience members, the last few words by Mark Russell were riveting. In the Winningstad, where audiences had packed the house numerous times in the last ten days to see riveting work by Reggie Watts, Lemon Anderson, Mike Daisey, Tiago Guedes, and Tim Etchells, there were more seats empty seats than filled, yet it did nothing to stop the gentle force that was Mark Russell’s farewell.
More monologue than lecture, Russell presented himself plainly. He spoke in a simple prose that sometime veered toward poetic delivery. At his best, he grabbed attention through grace, and at his worst, he fumbled at crafting emotional-filled metaphors that sometimes missed their mark. Having resisted during the entire festival to give an overriding theme to TBA, he still managed to avoid providing a central metaphor, only citing a theme a fellow TBA-goer told him, which was compassion. He failed to expand.
Of the things he said, some were very interesting: that basic theater alone, in our modern world, does not have the power to affect social change, and that performance must interact with the audience in new ways in order to create change; and that he entered the realm of performance as a contact dance performer.
A nice ending to the lecture was the formal introduction of Cathy Edwards, the Artistic Director for next year’s festival. For a few minutes, each heavy hitter shared the stage. Edwards and Russell, Russell and Edwards. The audience was able to get a glimpse of what Edwards saw in this year’s TBA, though she seemed to stray away from saying too much. It was clear she was impressed with the WORKS as a performance and visual arts space. And who knew she was once an assistant at Conde Nast Magazine. All in all, it was a good ending to a good ten days of TBA.