I’m C.R. Tonight was the kick-off TBA event for me and most of Portland, and it brought down the house. TBA has been a bit of a well-kept secret in my circle of friends, and I have spent almost as much time explaining the nature of TBA as singing its praises. Friends have been boggled by PICA advertising (what are all the acronyms? why is that woman weighing her head? Is it live? Isn’t all art time based?) and I haven’t had a clear answer (it’s Japanese dancers wearing white on white stages, it’s choreography in pools at the Hilton, it’s midnight parties with marching bands…) but tonight I think Portland got a taste of how fun and accessible TBA can be.
I’ve been attending TBA for the past two years on the DL through friends with media hook-ups, but this year I’m psyched to be a bona fide press member with access to all the events. What I lack in formal knowledge (never studied performing arts, don’t do any myself) I plan to make up for in gusto and dedication. So, from a totally enamored (with TBA) layperson’s perspective, here’s my thoughts on STREB:
Everyone can get excited about the circus-like feats that STREB performes, and that’s exactly what an opening show should do. There were falls from high places, swinging hazards, 6 people smooshed into a small box, and generally a lot of *gasp* moments for children and adults. I was reminded of both Cirque de Soleil and our own Imago Theatre’s “Frogz”. It drew a crowd, it generated buzz, and it brought people out to see what the TBA events are all about. What struck me most about the performance was how the bodies interacted with their environment. Many performances I have seen consist of calculated and graceful movements. Not so with STREB, it was all about COLLISIONS. People smacking into other people, into elements of their (expensive! technical!) set, running towards the audience and smacking into a clear plastic wall (a spin on the fourth wall in theatre?), and even accidentally taking a swinging cinder block to the head. STREB cunningly highlighted the negative space which surrounds a performer by interacting fully with every surface. Because after all a body does not exist in a vacuum, it is defined by what it is confined in, struck by, or thrown from. Hooray for STREB and thanks to PICA for the free public performance.