Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Performance Review of Rodrigo Toscano's "Collapsible Poetics Theater"

A Performance Review of Rodrigo Toscano's "Collapsible Poetics Theater"

Jade Hudson

After having read Toscano's "Collapsible Poetics Theater" for my book review, since which I have worked on with Rodrigo himself, I was eager to see a performance of it. During the Latino/Latina festival, my wish came true. However, the performances were much different than I had expected. When on the stage, the pieces change drastically. It will be the task of this short essay to examine how the performance of these pieces altered them.
When reading the book, I hadn't really thought about what Rodrigo's holding up the side of the stage would look like. Yet, in the first performance, when he came out and did this, it was interesting to see the franticness of this action. I immediately began thinking of the wall as an unbearable weight: Rodrigo put his back against it, suggesting that it was falling. There were also elements of Atlas coming into the piece. There seemed to be a jumping and picking of golden apples.
When it came time for Rodrigo to be the scarecrow, I realized a difference in this as well. While reading, I had not realized the importance of body positioning. The scarecrow is a figure manipulated by other entities. This is important, as a scarecrow isn't just a pair of clothes and straw: it is suggestive of a person.
Later, when I saw all four figures on stage with arms locked, I realized that bodies and positions of bodies were even more crucial. There were four interlocked entities struggling for their own way while succumbing to the directions of others. None of them were able to move either way. For my review revision, I further considered that the extent of bodily function and a desire to move beyond the limitations of the body suggested what was a greater theme of inflexibility.
In a sense, the movement of these figures on stage became an alternate text. The poetry in the book, as Toscano told me, is not meant to act as mere poetry. He desired for me to call it "poetic activity." With this in mind, it is especially easy, upon reflection, to see the movements of bodies to be crucial to the work.
The third piece, "Ecco Strato Static," was one that I wrote about in my review. How it differed from the other pieces, was in its immobility. I realized after the performance that this was the piece in the book I understood most. This is likely because it is more book based. But then, I thought, what was the purpose of its being acted? My answer to this question is that there was a need for the conversation to be witnessed. In other words, there was an absurdity in no movement. Moreover, even an immobility was highly suggestive.

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