The Pink House is a cozy, little space in Riverwest. People gather around a tiny stage for a show that runs for two performances. One weekend only. The 7pm show opens the program. April Biggs’ Sick Girl feels like an oddly pleasant and deeply engaging trip to the doctor’s office crossed with an art installation and an abstract narrative dance performance. (Audience members are handed clipboards and intake forms on the way into the performance space.) Biggs is radiant. I’ve reviewed THAT performance for The Shepherd-Express.
After intermission, the program returns. It’s a provocative, little three-performance show that’s being presented by 53212 Presents. It’s a show called TRIP/syck. You should go. Really. It’s fun. It’s a fusion of different narrative styles that don’t often make it...anywhere. So it’s really cool to see this sort of thing presented onstage.
Selena Milewski’s Biopic follows the intermission. It’s an exploration into phantoms of biography and mediated reality through the lens of popular cinema. There’s a pre-recorded bit that’s projected onto the wall--a mutated isotope of an Academy Awards telecast. She’s hosting the ceremony while presenting an award for a category in which she’s the only one who has been nominated. Milewski stars in weird fragments of nonexistent feature films which play out on the wall as a living Selena dances in the projection. It’s hypnotic. Milewski has the kind of striking beauty and magnetic presence that fits well into a glowing rectangle. There’s no question that she’d be good for big money projects in two-dimensions, but there’s something alive living in the projection...and it’s her.
Cinema and video produced by Zeze Schorsch are projected onto the wall. They play with corpses of what’s already been and there they are projected against the screen in biographical mutation as a very real and living Selena dances around in the light cast from the past. Very cool stuff...and a clever (if possibly inadvertent) satire on the nature of film as art on the precipice of the SAG strike that’s coming at month’s end. So much money is cast into the yawning pit of creative energy in LA. The live stage in all its many forms is capable of so much more than anything that’s restlessly being projected on so many vapid multiplex screens all over the country. It’s so much more when it’s alive...especially on intimate, little floorboards somewhere West of the river.
The program ends with a weird, little tour de force of trippy disorientation called Afternoon of Fawning. It’s a mind-warping deconstruction of performance. Forrest Jackson, Posy Knight and Zeze Schorsch are rehearsing a show that they’re performing...as they’re performing it they’re rehearsing it. Basic relationships break apart nonlinearly as the narrative slides around itself looking for the right diagonals...looking for the right rhythms. Everything’s unfixed on some level of being live as video of the audience and actors shot from various angles are projected against the wall. We’re the audience and we’re in it as they’re in it and we’re all looking into it and around it. Schorsch and Knight and Jackson play mutated amplifications of themselves as light and life are haphazardly refracted through the video in uneasy projection through. every reflection.
There’s good beer and snacks too. And wine. It’s like a gallery opening or something. In Riverwest.
TRIP/syck: a collection of 3 intimate studio showings is presented by 53212 Presents at The Pink House on 601 East Wright Street. For more information, visit 53212 Presents online.
Summer opens-up on the Milwaukee theatre scene with a few diverse shows in June that will ultimately lead to some kind of major explosion of openings in July. The transition from the traditional theatre season to summer opens right away in June with a Summerstage show and then filters through some quite promising productions. Here’s a look.
Mark Bucher directs an intimate staged reading this month with Boulevard Theatre. It's about four friends who are searching for relationships in one of the largest cities in the world in the 21st century. Playwright Joshua Harmon didn't set-out to write a comedy. “I honestly thought that I’d written the saddest play... I don’t write thinking about the comedy. I am genuinely always surprised when something winds up being funny. ”“I honestly thought that I’d written the saddest play..." said Harmon in a piece in Playbill a few years back, "I don’t write thinking about the comedy. I am genuinely always surprised when something winds up being funny.”
Boulevard Theatre's staged reading of Significant Other has two performances: Monday, June 5th and Wednesday, June 7th. Both performances are at 7pm at Sugar Maple on 411 E. Lincoln Ave.
So...uh...Maya Danks is playing Lady Macbeth. (That’s so cool.) (And really...all I need to know about the production.) And it’s outdoors. With Summit Players. Maureen Kilmurry directs the show that will be touring local Parks June 9th - August 19th. The show opens at the Bong Rec Area and gets really, really busy from there with over 20 different tour dates throughout the summer. For more information, visit Summit Players online.
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Neil Simon helped to define the sitcom format of the late 20th century. His semi-autobiographical dramatic comedy makes its way to the idyllic outdoor space of Summerstage of Delafield to open the season. The coming-of-age tale of a kid growing-up in Brooklyn comes to Lapham Peak State Park June 8th – 24th. The show is being directed by Reva Fox, who is an impressively talented actress in her own right. Typically I’m not all that impressed with Neil Simon. He’s like...oatmeal for the stage: thick and hearty, but lacking in a whole lot of personality. Directed by Fox, though? That could be fun.
Holmes and Watson
Jeffrey Hatcher’s premise for Holmes and Watson is a lot of fun. Long after reports of Sherlock Holmes’ death, three men show-up claiming to be the man himself. It’s up to Dr. Watson to work out whether or not any of them is anything other than psychotic. Acacia Theatre presents the show June 9th -25th at The Norvell Commons at St. Christopher's Church on 7845 North River Road. For more information, visit Acacia online.
Shakespeare RAW: The Winter's Tale
Winter’s Tale will be presented in Summer. Up will be down. Black will be white and those who dress in winter gear will get a discount on admission as one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies gets a fun and breezy treatment with a group of actors who are dedicated to being vastly unprepared. The improv comedy atmosphere will find welcome home in The Best Place Tavern as actors are randomly given roles for each production by the casting director: a hat filled with names. The show runs June 12th - 14th on 917 W Juneau Ave. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook Events Page.
Shakespeare RAW: The Winter's Tale
There’s something beautiful about the abstract experimental onstage in late Spring and early Summer. Late this June, 53212 Presents stages a program of short features with descriptions that read like poetry. “Sick Girl” is “an autoethnographic and interdisciplinary solo, exploring her disabled and medicalized body as a site of chimeric world-breaking and world-making – a cyborg bodymind imagining itself into a wingèd creature.” (That’s being performed by April Biggs.) “BIOPIC” is a “satirical one-woman awards show” performed by Selena Milewski. “Afternoon of a Fawning” is “inspired by the evolution of choreographic process from the birth of modernism to post-pandemic zoom dance.” The show runs both online and Pink House on 601 East Wright Street June 24th- 25th. For more information, visit 53212 Presents online.