John Jasperse Company, Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, & Flat Out Lies
Posted by: Forrest Martin
The total virtue and variable of art is that it doesn’t have to make sense, and that’s why it clears a special place for freedom. Not shit patriotic freedom, but the abstract, untethered practices of reframing and reorganizing culture and medically cleansing your eyes. So why am I so irritated when something doesn’t make any sense? I enjoy abstraction, and leaving things unexplained; but inside of anything I’ve ever enjoyed that had a dense or random exterior, a chord of excitement – that certain conventions were being freshly distorted or even ignored – was touched, which makes it’s own kind of sense. And the problem with aiming to do something fresh and unexpected is that it actually needs to be unexpected, and a lot of crap happens all the time, so newness fatigue, or over-it-ness, or, you know, Haters, come in and feed on the injured deer. That’s a different kind of shame, because while in nature that deer just needs to die, in art it may just need better funding, a good director, or more practice. Still, I’m playing the role of the lion tonight.

No offense to T:BA, but this is the show I was expecting to find myself at at some point this week. And being that I’m dumb when it comes to dance, it makes sense that this would be the genre. Still, you can’t have an arts festival without experimentation and risks, and experimental risks often turn out flat, or terrible. The title (Truth, Revised Histories, Wishful Thinking, & Flat Out Lies) is pretty indistinct, and well suited for the piece, as both represent a three or four pronged road that could still use heavy construction in order to lead to any destination I’d be interested in visiting.
If you like children’s parties, and clowns, and the whole concept of “clowning” (like Clown School), you should see this show this weekend. It will warm your feelings to see four – sometimes five – people self-consciously reveal their humanity and lack of intimidating technique. You will also be exposed to a grab bag of idea fragments as well as fun, silly dancing and free-form experimentation sort of like the first and last ten minutes of most improv dance classes. But if you’d rather watch that then do that, you can. Here. For $25.
On the other hand, no one in their right mind could contest the fact that the opening number dresses were mesmerizing. Especially during the spot-lit butt dance, when they cast a subtle disco-ball effect on the whole auditorium. If you have to, go for the dresses, and the riveting slow-motion fight scene (which is after the intermission, unfortunately – otherwise you could leave early and still make it to the Fox Tower or the Broadway Metroplex right down the street). That was the single stretch where I wasn’t aware of my body in it’s seat, or the time, or my dismay. Also, the lighting and minimal set design were great (that huge, white, back wall with a full thirty-foot bar of light slowly scanning down, then up, just like a Xerox machine – with the same dry/white/bleak quality to the light).

I’m not really sure where this show fits; if it thinks of itself as experimentally trodding new territory, or as a simple exaltation of somber-faced insincerity, punctuated by furtive stabs at actual sincerity. It’s wacky and zany, and the players clearly relish taking liberties with dance and doing it imperfectly. This is spelled out for us – still, I craved seeing more synchronization, because there were times when it was intended, just not delivered. They also enjoy physical comedy, and I don’t. But a lot of people do, and 70% of those people are between 4 and 13, and I think they would really get a kick out of this show. Even though there was partial nudity and full jock-strap thrusting, it was pretty medical…I think that scene could be passed off as an anatomy lesson. But 8:30-10:30 is way too late for that demographic.