Tuesday, October 6, 2020

342. THE NAMING. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975

THE NAMING [Unusual Theatrical Experience] D: Ric Zank; Chelsea Theatre Center of Brooklyn; T: Chelsea Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music (OB); 4/3/73-4/18/73 (18)

Note: No photos are available for this production.

One of American’s better-known non-New York avant-garde theatre companies, the Iowa Theatre Lab, participated with this work, The Naming, in a “mini-festival” of unusual productions sponsored by Brooklyn’s Chelsea Theatre. This was an unclassifiable exercise in Grotowski-like, nonverbal, highly athletic performing. As in Jerzy Grotowski’s Polish Lab Theatre, a limited audience of around 30 surrounded an oval acting space as the leotard-clad, four-actor company (Kim Allen Bent, Harold Goodman, Deborah Gwinn, and George Kon) in their ritualistic, abstract physical and vocal contortions.

Physical violence formed a central theme and the actors were adept at delivering and receiving the stylized forms of abused devised by the director. Dialogue was practically nonexistent, but strange sounds were heard to emerge from the actors’ throats. However, Mel Gussow asserted that “for all their activity the offer very little theatrical accomplishment and nothing very experimental. The group is as humorless as a stone.”