The Mormon Bird Play
Bicoastal director/playwright/designer Roger Benington is Seattle’s most uncompromising theater visionary. His bold singular aesthetic put the Washington Ensemble Theater on the map. He managed to turn a cabaret variety show at the Erotic Arts Festival into a poignant and unforgettable masterpiece. And he ought to be directing everything at the Seattle Rep and then some at the new Intiman when it opens. His new play is closing this weekend and every theater connoisseur needs to see it. “The Mormon Bird Play” is a kind of reverse burlesque act of allegories – a group of male actors playing little girls and gay boys, imagining themselves as birds, dressed up for ceremonial make-belief Mormonism, and finally becoming tragic pioneer Mormon women. Narratives within narratives, stages within stages, this ambitious play washes over you like a novel by Salman Rushdie or Tom Robbins, letting you read between the lines and decipher its riddles. The capable cast of six young men is skilled enough to juggle all the layers of storytelling without getting lost or confusing the audience. The play takes place in a church recreation hall. Bennington’s set is a naturalistic homage to Mormon/Masonic temples, containing a pioneer diorama by that genius of the grotesque, painter Javier Ortega. Jessica Trundy’s lighting design is the kind of subtle magic that ties everything together without calling attention to itself. As a director, Benington is known for taking on challenging if not incomprehensible texts and turning them into highly entertaining theater experience, the kind you may not fully understand but would never regret watching. “The Mormon Bird Play” is different, far more straight-forward, personal and even linear, despite its complex structure. An ex-Mormon himself, Benington draws parallels between theater, religion and the dangerous games children play when unattended. Hurry and buy your tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.
Carolee Schneemann at Henry.
Carolee Schneemann, feminist performance artist since the 60’s, has a retrospective up at the Henry Art Gallery through Dec. 20th. She will be giving a performance-lecture on Friday, Nov 18th, and Saturday, Nov 19th will be an all-day academic symposium followed by a reception with performances and tours by Waxie Moon, Paula the Swedish Housewife, Jesse Belle-Jones, Lydia Ransom, Wiggy Stardust, Marissa Rae Niederhauser (artistic director of Josephine’s Echopraxia), Tonya Lockyer, and Rosa Vissers. For tickets go to the Henry website.