Life Underwater




By Marcina Zaccaria


Performance art thrives at Jaron Hollander and Slater Penney’s The Submarine Show at the NY International Fringe Festival.

At the top of the show, Hollander and Penney ask the audience to put on imaginary oxygen masks and enter their world. Drawing from traditional clowning, mime, and circus, the artists perform physical feat after physical feat. With beeps and whistles, they create a submerged world where heart is easily found.

The Submarine Show has toured since 2009, and received “Best in Fest” at the San Francisco International Fringe Festival. It’s a test of strength and a test of fortitude. With every lift, fall, and balancing act, Hollander and Penney prove to be the perfect duo. Jaron Hollander was a member of the Cirque du Soleil. He shows that, with careful training of the body, anything is possible. Slater Penney (known for his Emmy Award winning motion capture work) externalizes his energy, having the gruff fortitude of a working man. Hollander is short and stocky, compared to graceful Penney. Together, they seem quite balanced. Their work has all of the rich innovation of downtown performance art, maintaining a certain caliber.

Throughout The Submarine Show, Hollander and Penney are interdependent. They portray explorers who struggle to find their way after their submarine has crashed. Moments from the play are carefully constructed without words. Hollander and Penney build walls and break through them. They climb around the audience, over chairs, balancing on each other in the aisles. It’s surprising without being alarming. At one point, Penney runs out the back door, only to burst through the front door within moments. Those spontaneous moments, drawn from the practiced improvisation during creation, make their theater great.

Their characters are specific, and the audience is asked to be concerned about them over time. Sound design by Dan Moses adds a bit of dimension, offering the possibility of travel into a darker netherworld. At the end of the show, Penney has an out-of-body experience. He drifts triumphantly into another world only to be brought back by his partner on stage. It was incredibly moving. Whether people attend the NY International Fringe Festival to see breakthrough performances, or whether they just think that Fringe fare is better than the theater uptown, shows like The Submarine Show prove that performance art isn’t dead.

The Submarine Show is running until August 29th at The Lynn Redgrave Theater at the Culture Project, located at 45 Bleecker Street. Additional information is available at or