Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: "StrAta" from Bricolage Production Company

Bricolage Production Company has created a highly original, extraordinarily devised conception stretching the boundaries of theatrical experience.  The ticket-holder does not look on from a safe remove, as if viewing performers on a stage. Rather, such a visitor is an inevitable participant.  It’s called StrAta.  

And, indeed, there are levels of meaning, strata, if you will, to be explored, should you choose to ponder them. But don’t think of it as some kind of intellectual conundrum.  If you allow yourself to go with the flow, you could finish your visit feeling different than when you started, which I think is the intention.  

Never fear, you will not come away harmed, shocked or shattered. If you feel what I felt,  you may leave remarkably tranquil, seeing and feeling things differently for a while, as if the rest of the world, the life on the streets and the people there seem different.

The closest thing to this in my experience came after spending a tranquil weekend at a Yoga ashram in city suburbs. Leaving, when I re-entered the city, it was as if “real” life had altered, rather than that I had. The effect was temporary. But unforgettable.

In short, from the effect of StrAta, your mind-set which guides you to work out the challenges of everyday living can be peacefully changed for a while.    

Participants who buy into this are asked to not reveal the specifics of what they went through. I hew to that agreement.

Consecutive guides take you along short downtown street routes to the insides of a large, multi-storied building.  Initially, though, your ability to see and perceive is challenged. Go along with it. It will open you up. Thereafter, so will each contrasting short event in which you participate. Moving along singly, you are guided to a series of hallways and rooms where solitary performers tell short personal stories expecting you to respond. Or another performer may challenge you to participate in a simple activity.  You could also be given an elementary, puzzling task to perform.  A couple of times you may be amused. Recorded voices add to the environment, most murmuring or exhorting or reciting what sounds like quasi-philosophical reflections. You needn’t try to listen. You can if you want. You will not be tested.

Being thoroughly open to what’s offered could have a different effect than what I experienced. Not just by playing along but by actively, creatively playing a role yourself. Another level where, alas, I did not go.

The preparation and the details have been remarkably, cleverly, thoroughly, impressively  conceived and prepared.  The wizards behind the curtain are many. They have created magic. The program book, given to you when you depart, will name them. A standing ovation is not possible. And it would be too noisy and too obvious.  

StrAta continues through September 1st

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