Thomas Hampton Reviews TOHUBOHU! WITH GEORGE HERMS -Rachel Rosenthal Company

This review is of a performance of TOHUBOHU! with guest artist George Herms that took place on Sunday, June 11.

Photo credits: Martin Cohen, Joanna Grasso, Michael Childers.

In a terrific move forward, TOHUBOHU! the current monthly show by the Rachel Rosenthal Company at Espace DbD, incorporated the art of beat collage artist/ sculptor George Herms in to the mix.  This review will focus specifically on aspects of the collaboration with Mr. Herms; for a better overview of what TOHUBOHU! is, please read my original review.  This weekend, July 9,10,11, brings a collaboration between the TOHUBOHU! ensemble and Amy Knoles and Eric Clark of the EAR Unit.

The style and tenor of the evening remains the same (a free improvisation sans language; incorporating dance, vocalization, and touching on bits of theatrical styles like mime, contact improvisation, and commedia,) but as the company brings in new guest artists for special weekends of TOHUBOHU! you may decide to take a second visit to Espace DbD, and see the company collaborate with a guest artist who piques your interest.

In the case of this collaboration with George Herms, the company included him in their rehearsals for a number of weeks leading up to the show, and he brought some of his sculptural art pieces for the company to play with.  In a very interesting discussion post show, both the company and Mr. Herms spoke to the intriguing dilemmas that the rational brain concocted, and the artists had to overcome.

For Mr. Herms, the idea of working collaboratively in any way, let alone performance, was a constant lesson in the difficulty of ‘letting go’ in to the communal nature of the troupe, and trusting that the company is there to push the performance along, and that all choices are good ones.  I must say, for a novice performer, George Herms was definitely in the best of hands.  There was no noticeable dichotomy between the ‘actual’ ensemble of the Rachel Rosenthal Company and their newest temporary member as he concocted sets for improvisations, and joined in the performance.

One of the most magical experiences for Herms was the ability to see his sculptural pieces (which were utilized as set pieces, props, and costumes) again as living, soulful creatures.  When collectors get their hands on them, they wind up hung on walls, or placed on pedestals, distanced from the chaos of the world around them, cut off from real life in a sanitized surreality of what ‘art’ is as a commodity, not a living piece of his soul, or active reflection of society.

On the flip side of this coin, several company members, most notably Doug Hammett, spoke to the difficulty of treating the art like any other prop.  All of the company members were well aware of Herms’ status as an artist of significance.  They knew that each piece he brought in to play with, if hung on a gallery wall, would be priced in the thousands.  It took time to disconnect the ‘value’ from these props so the company could freely incorporate them in to performance- and that they did.

In one sequence, Hammett had wedged a sculpture around his neck.  Throughout the scene, he continued to struggle with it physically; bending and stretching out what seemed to be a clock spring further and further, invoking humanity’s constant struggle against time.  Mortality.  Our collective and simultaneously individual, yet absolutely futile attempts to unburden ourselves; force off this yoke.

Worthy of mention is the participation of Kate Noonan, Managing Director of the Rachel Rosenthal Company, who incorporates light and sound in to the mix.  Because this week’s guest was not a musician, all of the audio was Kate’s contribution.  Over and over throughout the course of the evening, Kate found just the right accompaniment to action on stage, and tracks that propelled and instigated performance opportunities.

Thematic content includes:  All performances will differ, but expect Dance/ Movement, Highbrow, Humor, Live Music, Violence, Love.

TOHUBOHU! runs July 9,10,11, Sept 24,25,26, Oct 15,16,17, Nov 5,6,7, Dec 3,4,5
F,S 8:30pm Sn 7:30pm $20
Map of Espace DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal Co.
Buy Tickets online or by phone 310-839-0661
Visit the DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal website
Contact the production/ producers
View a Charlie Rose interview with Allen Ginsberg, Steven Watson and George Herms from Nov 29, 1995
Please note:  interview begins at 22:30



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