Luckily for us, Beth Corning’s moved to Pittsburgh in 2003 to serving as Artistic Director of Dance Alloy. In 2010, she launched (to critical acclaim) CORNINGWORKS as a vehicle for “seasoned” performers and artists over 40. Her Glue Factory Project was an outgrowth of that mission.
Her latest work, Six A Breast, is a brilliantly executed exploration of what she finds as “ridiculous” about being a woman. The performance is a series of very short scenes that chart expectations that shape a women’s experiences on her journey through life. Those expectations are driven by our societal & cultural norms and some are self-imposed. Upon reflection, many are ridiculous, some absurd. Corning says: “Six A Breast encapsulates the lunacy of all our lives, no matter the gender, but women . . . they got the “mother lode” backward and in heels.”
Corning uses a style familiar to those of us of a certain age, that of the quick “Laugh In” vignette, we grew up watching. Early MTV, Sesame Street and today’s” viral” videos share that short attention span style. In Six A Breast it is not so much choppy quick cuts but a flow or a progression through the chronologic milestones of a woman’s life. The scenes are illusions, not in your face representations, of sex, childbirth, manners, behaviors and the conundrums that women face.
The stories are told mostly in dance by three female characters, performed by Beth Corning, Sally Rousse, and Laurie Van Wieren. Each is unique in appearance, mood, and behavior, but all will remind you of someone in your life.
The last scene, with the three ladies all seated together on a bench, deliver Samuel Beckett’s one-hundred- twenty-seven word most perfect play, Come and Go, in near darkness.
Corning and Costume Designer Lindsey Peck Scherloum clad the women in white, in the style of “the uniform of the day” appropriate to each vignette. This with the exception of the last scene, which is “in living color”.
The production design is a stark black stage with minimal props helping to create the illusion. Iain Court’s pure white lighting design bathes and sculpts the women with nuanced yet dramatic subtlety.
Corning and Recording Engineer Greg Reierson have created a developed a perfectly matched score so tightly integrated that it’s hard to imagine which idea came first; the story, the choreography or the music.
Let us not forget this is a Dance Theatre piece, and choreography is front and center in the journey. There are snippets and longer form styles and genres of dance, each again perfectly applied to that phase of life’s journey.
You will laugh, cry, gasp and applaud these women as the present the absurd life of women. At the end of the opening nights performance, following the bows, the audience didn’t want to leave, sitting quietly and reflecting on what they had just seen.
Mothers, take your daughters to see Six A Breast. Women, if your partner is one of those unfortunate creatures, a man, take him with you. Regardless of who you go with, and do go with someone, this show will spark interesting conversations on the way home.
Remaining performances are September 7th to 10th at the New Hazlett Theatre on Pittsburgh’s North Side as follows:
Thursday at 8 pm includes the 7:15 pm pre-performance Bare Arms series How to Say “No”: with Joy with Christiane Dolores
Friday at 8 pm with the 7:15 pm pre-performance Bare Arms series No, You Take Out the Garbage; the art of negotiation & delegation with Jen Saffron and post-performance informal cast talk-‐back
Saturday at 8 pm includes the 7:15 pm pre-performance Bare Arms series On Beauty, the Good, Bad, Ugly guest Artist TBA
Sunday 2 pm with “pay-what-you-can admission” available only at the door, regular reserved tickets are available online.
For tickets visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3023829
Thanks to Corningworks for complimentary press tickets.