Loosening the Screws of Performance with Unbolted

Unbolted-Graphic(Small)Containment, dimensionality, perspective and strictures or limitations of space are the most impeding elements of theatre.  At times imperceptible, these elements structure and even haunt the experience of a dramaturgical or dance production.  The most impeccably transcendent show or production is aware of a certain degree of artifice—the stage, the audience’s immobility, the performativity, all loom throughout the staging of the piece.  Seeking to obliterate these trappings that pervade the theatrical experience, Attack Theatre has created a provocatively innovative new production, Unbolted.

Employing a deceptively traditional staging method, Unbolted will be Attack’s first theatre-in-the-round production that will ambitiously position itself to be all the more defiant of form and sense of space by challenging the proscenium model it is premised upon.  The unique show, a choreographic brainchild of Attack Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza, is predicated upon the idea that “when you unbolt your chair, you free your mind.”  Even in these few words, the barriers between cognition and physicality, between performativity and fluid thought/perception are challenged—it is evident that Unbolted strives to be a scintillating piece which aims to upend and reestablish the theatrical phenomena.

Unbolted is designed to confront both the audience and the performers with the “uncharted territory” of existence, in which the notions of space, participation and viewership are radically thrust into flux. Though the show is a collaborative ensemble piece—the 90 minute piece is shared by and highlights the talents of Attack Company dancers Kaitlin Dann, Dane Toney, Anthony Williams, Ashley Williams and Sarah Zielinski—it endeavors to challenge how audience members and performers interact with one another, with the space in which they are allowed to coexist, and what it means to have art and performance interrupted and commingled with the elements of “real life.”  The audience will choose their own seats from a bevy of bean bags, couches, and other options which challenge the notion of conventional theatre, and will witness and participate the ensuing performance in a complexly organic fashion, with each audience member governing their own perspective and insight into the show’s meaning and narrative structure based on their placement and relative scope to the dancers.  Moreover, the dances are, in the words of the directors, constructed as “short form narrative dance” that take place in three core parts, and will emphasize the multifaceted phenomena of movement and perception by being stylized in a setting that recollects a club, a party, or another familiar social setting.  Through this staging, Unbolted further pushes the crucial multidimensionality of perspective but also experience, rather than spectatorship.

In delving into the world of Unbolted, even preliminarily and without having experienced the live phenomena yet, I am struck with the profound sense of yearning, of craven ambition, and of ineffable aching that the show is premised upon and replete with—true to the creators and performers efforts to echo real life as candidly as possible.  Conceptually, the performance features a meta focus and meta structure—the show will center around a mammoth chair designed and built by Greg Boggs (of Renovation Evolution); the dancers will be equipped with maps, assembly directions and their own kinesthetic impulses.  The show will rely as much on solo composition as it will on group dynamics and bodily interweaving, but the true mettle of the performance will lie in the brutally gorgeous destructiveness and dearth of predictability that is inherent to relationships and daily existence.  Unbolted will deconstruct and strip the idea of observing art for art’s sake, and instead allow for a visceral, multi-perspective organic moment in which audience and performers are ingeniously aware of their interdependency and symbiotic cohesion.  The show will expose the semiotics of desires, of performativity, of movement, and of point of view in a titillating, groundbreaking way.

Unbolted will run Thursday December 1-3 at 7 PM (with one matinee on December 3, at 2 PM) at the George R. White Studio, tickets and more information can be found here.