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is a contemporary shadow-puppet show that was just getting around to its New York premiere. With cut-out puppets designed by Donald Case, the piece draws on the tradition of the Javanese Wayang Kulit shadow-dramas, but only in the mildest ways. Moran is best known as a composer of new music and has created large-scale musical events for several cities around the world. Here he was working in miniature and appeared clearly outclassed by the form he had chosen to imitate. Javanese shadow-dramas, with their ornate and lacey figures, are elaborate, compelling adventures that are performed throughout the night for upwards to 12 hours. Moran's 80-minute work, distinguished not by its visual delights but by the pre-recorded tape loops that accompanied the piece (a new score written by Moran for the Kitchen and performed by the University Philharmonia , SUNY Buffalo) seemed much too crude and simple for a work that has been in existence for 5 years. But Moran says that this tale of the character Hammi's search for the Knowledge of Life is only Part I of a larger epic work. As the manipulator behind the screen, displaying the cut-out figures before everchanging scenic projections, Moran's skills were conventional and unsurprising. Partly a spoof on the fable form ("Hammi accidentally comes across a travel agent, who sells him a ticket to the Magic Carpet Airlines' flight to the Knowledge of Life"), but mostly sincere in its child-like simplicity , Cloud worked a minor vein in the rich possibilities of its form. The whole performance vocabulary of the Wayang Kulit was here touched on in a mediocre but generally reverential way. Robert Anton, who came to performance through work as a scene designer, has been creating his own unique form of miniature private performances for over 10 years. ATntwn Because his performances are so intimately selective (usually for about a dozen people) and are presented irregularly in his upper West Side apartment, his name and popularity have by now a small cult appeal. Intensely private and given to mystical themes and occult imagery, Anton's puppet theatre is a lavish display of inch-high miracles. His evening performances are full of marvelous transformations that tie into a personal mythology that Anton has been perfecting over the years. It can only be appreciated in the viewing. At the Bette Stoler Gallery, Anton displayed several of his puppet creations (six clown heads no bigger than eggs) and scenic designs for future theatre and film projects. The detailed facial features of his heads were startling in their expressiveness to the point of being unnerving. And after having seen others like them in performance , one remembers being struck by their fixed stares. Anton's other designs have a Cocteau-like appeal but seem more like exotic and fantastical doodlings, rich in color but short on possibility. One sequence , though, was particularly arresting: pencil on vellum sketches for a series of Elizabeth I puppets that were fiercely ornate , grotesque, and rich in their design and execution. Like other items in Anton's catalogue of effects, these items in particular seem to be modeled on the designs of Japanese Kabuki theatre. Michael Earley Edouard Lock and Dancers. The Kitchen (October). Karole Armitage and Rhys Chatham. Tier 3 (September). Marta Renzi and Dancers. The Kitchen (January). Jim Self and Dancers. Dance Theater Workshop (October). All of these choreographers embrace theatre. They put movement into dramatic contexts, employing the full range of theatrical conventions from music, costumes, and decor to character and story as narrative. In these dances, kinetic invention is only one element among many. There are two major questions about such work. Is it reactionary? The use of familiar forms and methods may be part of the cur41 rent conservative careerism; it may also be a natural reaction to some twenty years of stripped-down dance. Secondly, is it only entertainment? Theatre in dance implies entertainment, and that imprecise term has historically meant dance which fails to push its limits or challenge its audience. But theatre-dance can be a style as difficult to pull off as process, improvisational, or architectural dance. Edouard Lock and company...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 41-44
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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