“Suppose I were to postulate — that those things that are never under control, are under control backwards.” Richard Foreman’s work has never been easy to digest, and here he enters the realm of filmed tableaux projected as hallucinatory backdrop to live stage action. Often impenetrable, it more resembles staged performance art than actual “theater.”
Impeccably conceived stage design is framed by planes of ropes cutting across the theater, passageways, windows, and totems, in addition to the immense projection screens that dwarf the stage. This is a performance of constant audio and visual repetition, phrases, sounds, and movement.
Streams of nonsensical, pseudo-political intimations suggest a world gone mad, blindfolds often wrapped around the eyes of both the players in the films and onstage. Symbolic usage of the term “donkey” is everywhere — metaphysical donkeys, worshipped, mistreated, straddled, through imagery, as huge dolls, and multiple references both politically and symbolically suggestive.
What does it all mean? I couldn’t tell you. There are hints of anger with the political, “passing the ball” for an approach at rethinking alternate directions. In a piece published at hotreview.org Foreman states that one approach to “spectator-oriented art” is a style wherein the audience is carried on a rollercoaster through various pre-determined emotional focal points, and another more meditative style where events are slowed up and detached so the spectator can project his or her own depths onto the material. I was continually stimulated by this hodgepodge of imagery and sound, but how any of it really affected is beyond me, perhaps what Foreman intends.