BUILT, directed by Michael Rohd
South Waterfront Discovery Center (680 SW Bancroft)
Fri. Sept. 5, 2008, 4:30 pm
Posted by: Camille Gerharter
I love Sojourn Theatre. I’ve seen half a dozen of their productions in the past half a dozen years.
This evening’s performance began as I walked towards the Discovery Center steps. A woman welcomed me and showed me the direction to proceed with her arms, at which point a young lady caught me in my approach and guided me to the door, and there was another person awaiting my arrival. I realized that this was a choreographed entrance in which the company members bring the audience into the space as individuals, personally, face to face. Once I had entered the space I was paired up with a few other audience members and brought to a table where we were given game boards and a sticker that was one of five colors, and we were to put the sticker on our shirt. Then came the cookies! Melon slices! Crackers with cucumber and spread! Welcome, eat, see us, join us, share with us, and there lies the message.
So, I did. So, we all did.
This is theater without chairs. There is no invisible wall between the audience and the stage. The script was created with our contribution. The story is one about where we live, on a microcosmic level and macrocosmic level. Where we chose to live is within our control, and in this theatrical platform we’re invited to go beyond choosing this house or that street corner and invited to ask what might else there be. Because, the structures we’re accustomed to are being outgrown, and in our ever growing population we’re either going to be shuffled of into the edges of our city or up into high rises. As we watched flat screen TVs that moved us through architectural models of possible futures we were told, “Portland’s urban growth boundary has expanded by 22,000 acres since 1990.” We’re growing up, and out. A cupcake sprinkling of vital factoids followed as limber and attractive actors ebbed into miniature cityscapes and prefab kitchen installations. “What you want vs. what you need,” was explored over a tight rope and cookies. As we moved through the symbols of where we live, and where we are going to live we were reminded of the simple and essential aspects of place: kitchen, cookie, game, community, structure and movement, audience, performers. Who’s in, and who’s out of the game? Please play, please enjoy, we needn’t be stuck in boxes. Expansion needn’t mean contraction.
Thank you Sojourn. Thanks for the dance and the treats, and the opportunity to speak.