Monday, April 12, 2010

Squat Theatre and the Wooster Group, Revolutionizing Theater

I recently researched both the "Squat Theatre" and the "Wooster Group". The "Squat Theatre" is a theater group that performed on West 23rd Street in New York City in the late 70s and early 80s. They performed their in the storefront windows using the street as the backdrop for the stage. Squat Theatre's most famous plays include, "Pig! Child! Fire!", "Andy Warhol's Last Love" (pictured), and "Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free". In Mr. Dead a World War II military Jeep, carrying four performers dressed as soldiers, drives down West 23rd Street, pulls a sharp U-turn onto the sidewalk in front of the the
ater and comes to a stop. The soldiers jump out of the Jeep run into the theater and grab one of the performers off the stage, put them in the Jeep and drive away. The five of them are never seen again. I found this to be an interesting take on live theater. Not only are they using the unpredictable and varying streets of New York as a backdrop, they add an interactive element by staging the kidnapping of one of the performers by the outsiders in the Jeep. This type of creativity fascinates me simply because I always think of plays as being a live presentation of a script in front of an audience with a fourth wall that is hardly ever broken. In Squat Theatre the
performers do the opposite by trying to eliminate the fourth wall altogether.

I also spent some time looking at the "Wooster Group"'s website. The Wooster Group has been performing for about thirty years and deal with performance, dance, and media. Their main goal has been to incorporate new technologies into their work. A great example of this is a video installation piece I found called "There Is Still Time...Brother". Pictured below this installation is a 360 degree screen projecting images shot from 12 different digital cameras in a panoramic view. The performers surround the viewer who has the ability to look at any part of the 360 degree image at any moment. The performers talk to the viewer, perform simple tasks such as typing on a computer or drawing, and some even tell stories well the others act it out.

One of the most disorienting moments in the performance is when one performers moves his left hand outward to his left. The next perfor
mer picks up this motion and continues it in the same direction to the next performer. All of the performers do this until it looks like one hand has gone all the way around the circle. Overall, this installation along with many of the works from the "Wooster Group" are very captivating, and very advanced.

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