- The Garden of Intimacy and Desire Cycle
The Garden of Intimacy and Desire was a “triptych” of performances that included three, one-hour productions of the Double Edge Theatre Company’s current cycle of plays, the UnPOSSESSED, The Republic of Dreams, and The Disappearance. Over the course of one evening, the company told the stories of the Golden Age hero Don Quixote, the Nazi-era Polish artist Bruno Schulz, and the Danish stage actor Maartin Soëtendrop. Although the three characters do not seem to be obvious partners in a night of theatre-making, logic is never the goal for Double Edge; instead, the company offers images and themes that can be teased out and mulled over by spectators long after the final curtain drops. One might see containment and the stifling of dreams as themes of the cycle, while someone else may consider the triptych a paean to intimacy and desire as the title seems to suggest.
Rather than relying on linear scripts, Double Edge puts together performative events from intensive physical-training sessions on its hundred-acre farm in rural Massachusetts. For Double Edge, the process of creating a performance generally begins with a story or theme, and then moves into the realm of the imagination as the performers create short études out of improvisational work. The company grounds the vignettes in exhaustive historical research, the use of reclaimed objects, and the imaginative reuse of the barn and the surrounding farm. In this case, director Stacy Klein later cobbled together the work together into a structured yet surreal performance that seemed to exist in a dream space and always elicited varied and conflicting response. An aesthetic that refers to the work of Klein’s mentors, Polish directors Jerzy Grotowski and Tadeusz Kantor, may [End Page 485] account for the success of Double Edge, and few companies can rival its imaginative output.
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the UnPOSSESSED, a retelling of the story of Don Quixote, was the first piece in the cycle, and a conscious juxtaposition of the dream world and waking reality began immediately. The audience was led from the holding room, up the old stairs of the barn, and into a theatrical world already in progress. Giant windmills filled the stage and haunting music emanated from under the floorboards. The windmills were not elaborately crafted pieces of stage machinery, but rather the stuff of Grotowski’s Poor Theatre or Kantor’s Cricot 2, homemade out of used objects and random detritus: strange moving ladders covered with parachutes and topped with actors waving giant maroon flags. Out of the darkness, when a dim light illuminated the giant sails, the effect was otherworldly. The windmills came to life as if they were enormous giants wreaking havoc upon the fields of Spain. In those opening moments, the audience saw what Don Quixote saw and strangely understood his twisted mind: the windmills were dangerous creatures that had to be stopped. Instantaneously, the spectators were forced to wonder what was dream, what was reality, and whether they themselves were sane spectators or quixotic fools. It is in the intersection between dream and reality and between the sane and insane that Klein’s company lives and thrives.
the UnPOSSESSED employed Double Edge’s unique brand of circus-inspired physicality. Performers sailed out over the audience on silk trapezes and rolled around the stage in giant feeding troughs. Using image and text, the company told stories of Quixote (Carlos Uriona) and Sancho Panza (Matthew Glassman) that were at once intimate and unrecognizable. The performance seemed to happen in a halfdream trance—the windmills looked nothing like windmills, but during the opening moments, they became windmills. The dream proceeded through several episodes from Cervantes’ classic novel leading to a climactic final scene during which Quixote did battle with a curious masked figure on stilts. In his sequined garb and...