By Marcina Zaccaria
Panorama, an edgy exploration of identity and belonging, debuted at the Under the Radar Festival on January 3rd.
Actors begin with a type of audition. Explaining their ethnic background, age, and history of performance, the presentation of their background prepares the audience for the longer journey. Motus Theatre of Italy combines technical skill with great intellect. From Turkey and Korea, via San Francisco and Washington Heights, their skills are extraordinary – guitar, break dancing, extreme video, and sketch art. The performers, several of whom are over 50 years old, look so comfortable at La MaMa. In this work devised and directed by Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolò, with the actors of the Great Jones Repertory Company, connection is found.
In this play about “otherness,” images of the actors’ heads are juxtaposed against moving landscape, creating a howling, rapidly moving vista. Motus’ previous work at La MaMa, Nella Tempesta questioned the notion that “No Man is an Island.” Panorama forces us to question where we belong. The performers seem to veer in an out of understanding, attempting to define the nature of what they are in between. Throughout the work, they find words for their excursions. They find solace, and the right to rebel.
Dancing in the street, defining a post-Trump America, their raised skills in performance art are deliberate and incomparably resourceful. Their protest art stands the test of time. Rolling on a type of green screen, or sitting at the table, drawing on found images, their roles shift. The sex, the drugs, and the rock-and-roll, it’s all there. However, what is extraordinarily memorable is their approach to layered imagery.
One idea moves effortlessly to the next, and spoken text and recorded video, creates a kind of 1,2,3, where each person is seen dimensionally. Video is intrinsic to the storytelling in this play, and the video aspect was executed by a design team from Culturehub and the Seoul Institute of Arts. Rectangular screens to the right and left of the main stage show close-ups of the actors, as well as illustration and animation. Meanwhile, recorded footage on the back wall reveals portraits and landscape. Each image builds upon the next. While holding many values of documentary, their monologues sound more like confessional works of fiction (with hints of the truth), designed to open the door to greater imaginative worlds.
Panorama, featuring Maura Nguyen Donohue, John Gutierrez, Valois Mickens, Eugene the Poogene, Perry Yung and Zishan Ugurlu, is running until January 21. Performances are at La MaMa, The Downstairs, 66 East 4th Street, NYC. call 212-352-3101