A solid click

 

The Photographer (Far from the Truth)

Butler University

Directed by John Green

Oct. 20-22

Two extraordinary productions occurred independently, simultaneously the weekend of Oct. 6, 60 miles apart by British-born and -trained artists now at home in Indiana.

At Butler University, John Green’s interpretation of The Photographer (Far from the Truth) enraptured as an onslaught of surround sight and sound. At IU, Michael Vernon’s From Balanchine to Baker (an international evening of dance) enchanted as an elegant event of movement and music. Each engaged audiences into a fusion of exterior and interior, past and present, romanticism and modernism. Each exposed musicians on stage and each encapsulated lighting, set and costume as performance partners. It’s a gift to have attended both.

“Perhaps it’s simply in the air,” surmised Green, when apprised of two university programs providing cutting-edge work.

The Photographer is a mixed-media performance piece depicting “the life and work of the pioneering 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904).” The conceit is exposure during an age of hiding from view. How should one interpret unlikely events that lead a wife to have an affair, a husband to shoot the lover, a jury to acquit a murder-in-cold-blood with the ultimate development of moving pictures?

Integrating three parts into a whole, Green works with a team of fearless theater artists to establish an atmosphere of events in space evolving into, out of and around various sites and from pre-performance through the final punctuation of the script.

The amplified speed and mechanics of Muybridge’s invention of sequencing photographs and the passion with which he undertook studies of human and animal location are in tension with the era’s staid, slow-motion Victorianism. Glass’ music underscores the dichotomy. It’s almost too much, yet we know it’ll get worse with CNN as in-your-face as one can bear in our own century. The bedroom is no longer a sanctuary when the lens intrudes beyond drawn curtains.

The performers are unwavering in meeting the demands of the movement, music and text. It’s a solid work that will become a fine addition to the Eiteljorg Museum’s sculpture gallery as a performance space when The Photographer moves downtown Oct. 20-21 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. Call 317-940-9659.

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