Thursday, January 07, 2010

COIL Festival: GuruGuru

Everybody has their own reasons for going to the theater, but most are variations on losing oneself. Rotozaza's latest show, GuruGuru, understands this; the second you arrive, clipping on one of five name-tags, you are meant to become someone else. The moment you step inside the sterile studio space, drop your baggage (coats, at least) in the corner, and take a seat, you are one step closer to tuning out. As you slip on those inauspicious earbuds, a comforting voice ensures that you are not alone, that--for the next fifty minutes--you need not think for yourself, need only follow the cues of your brand-new consciousness.

When I first saw Rotozaza at PS122, with their Doublethink, an audience watched as two actors who had never before performed the play, followed cues, but they quickly evolved to a more immersive technique. With Etiquette, performed at a booth at Veselka, pairs of audience members would sit across from one another, put on headphones, and simply follow cues themselves, becoming a part of the "moment"; so close, at times, that you didn't understand the poetry of the piece so much as you felt it. Pure theater, if you will. With GuruGuru--giving away as little as possible--the work is much more a mediation on our current cultural abyss and our worship of drone-life. It's no surprise that a television is the central object in the show, nor that it is placed on a pedestal, dead-ish flowers beneath it. Forget nature, forget nurture; simply forget, and do as you are told.

GuruGuru is a fully realized world, though you may not realize it at first. (It's not a sink-or-swim show, but it might take some time to stop struggling to stay afloat.) As you are told things about your character, it is inevitable that you make your own observations about the other characters, and about the Guru, a comic-sinister avatar who is there to guide you all. Bound to the "script" as you are, there is a truly liberating--or frightening--moment when the show "ends" and you find yourself back in the real world, more aware than ever of your own thoughts, and their importance.

1 comment:

pam said...

I just went to Guruguru last night. It was a wild ride.