List Grid

Blogs The Green Room

Lost and Found in Action: Penelope Freeh on Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People

To spark discussion, the Walker invites local artists and critics to write overnightreviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, Penelope Freeh shares her perspective on Wednesday night’s And lose the name of action by […]

To spark discussion, the Walker invites local artists and critics to write overnightreviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, Penelope Freeh shares her perspective on Wednesday night’s And lose the name of action by Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People. Agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments!

Wednesday night’s world premiere of And lose the name of action by Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People was displayed like a circus: the stage space was white and circular with seating all around. A white parachute suspended above our heads, tent-like, ballooning like a promise. There was a queen, barelegged and stately, and a white box, emanating light. White chairs were dispersed amongst the first rows. The six performers put these to great use as they sat amongst us early on, setting the tone with a chant-like song as we all held hands.

Cut to a face-off in the center of the ring. Two performers on two chairs sat and moved with full-body gestures, a conversation/debate that will prove later to get very heated, encompassing the cast.

This piece was at once on a grand and personal scale. The echoes of regality in the costumes and the stark palette felt both ancient (Greek Tragedy) and sanitized (Hospital). Maybe we were in a place between life and death, or in some neutral zone of our dreams (or nightmares) where our shit gets worked out and worked over.

Dancing ensued and instantly careened off center. The plumb line of the body organized unusually; gravity had different regulations. Movements were sweeping, broad stroked and yet personalized. An accumulation found all six performers negotiating the space together, in harmony and yet dangerously close to swatting.

Time seemed to unfold differently as well, or maybe it was the pacing. I find I have amnesia as I try to write and describe now. I experienced the piece like a dream. It washed over me as I too felt like a player, an active witness. I am thankful I am not a critic but a describer. This allows me the luxury of getting lost in the work.

Some scenes were so well played and layered they took my breath away. There was a script reading, an exchange that began as a dialogue and escalated into a tandem and then another so that three trios were two voices. Then the parts shirred, staggering and exaggerating the language. This exploded into a speed-walking chase, the chairs got in the way and incorporated, miraculously organizing into a sculptural offering up of the six of them, flattened and sacrificed. We are back in ancient Greece, in a coliseum, or on a gurney, getting our life saved, with speed and precision.

The dancing felt like remnants of dance, the performers sensing their way through the cobwebs of dreams and multiple realities. With feelers on every surface, they were not on display but lost in an experience.

Gutierrez is working it out and it seems to require witnesses. I mostly loved this piece. It had many endings. When it actually ended I was a little surprised, a little not ready yet, a little long-past ready but I had succumbed to my role as watcher. It was greatly satisfying and all the time it took left many openings, murmurings of other possibilities and planes of existence.