Last night at the 2015 edition of the delightfully named Canadian arts festival High Performance Rodeo, a mini-run of Untitled Feminist Show began. Written by Brooklyn playwright Young Jean Lee, the show is set to further thought-provoke at the Grand Theatre Junction tonight, Saturday and Sunday.
What’s the play about? Well, for starters, every female cast member appears on stage naked. And that’s the whole point, per High Performance Rodeo co-founder Ann Connor’s recent comments to the Calgary Herald:
“It’s a great statement about how women are perceived in the media,” Connor says, “and a statement about how women have been perceived over the years.”
“… It’s not about the young, beautiful gorgeous female body,” she says. “It’s about women of all shapes, ages and sizes, and how we’re perceived. It’s kind of a smack in the face to that kind of [idealized, Photoshopped] media statement.”
Amen to that smack. Enhancing the provocative central media critique is an avant-garde narrative construction. As the HPR synopsis promises, ‘six charismatic stars of the downtown New York theater, dance, cabaret and burlesque worlds come together in a blend of comic vignettes, contemporary dance sequences and evocative video images. With an absence of words (and clothes) the performers enact and subvert every stereotype, caricature, archetype and construction of women that both reveal and challenge the viewers’ assumptions about gender politics.’
When New York Times critic Christopher Isherwood reviewed the 2012 NYC debut of Untitled, he began with the following:
Young Jean Lee is, hands down, the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation.
[Image via: youngjeanlee.org]