Central State Hospital
Unreal City eerily populated the 1895 Laundry Building on the site of the closed-down Central State Hospital April 7-9. An ensemble of 12 dancers moved about in shadows elongating and folding into themselves, in swirls and lifts, groups and solos, silence and ramblings. Something interesting was always in motion.
The audience, walking along a Christmas tree lit runway, were voyageurs inside a Stations-of-the-Cross dream of dead and/or living souls in present/past/future time. Those attending, in essence, became part of the program, transporting their rational intellectual wares to places given over to the dark underside where pretense is exposed in simultaneously unsettling and mesmerizing postures. Commanding attention like a circus inside a rolling ball, the ensemble led the audience forth and back, made them look side to side, peer up and around, squat and stand.
Site-specific performance explores and exposes the vernacular and secret vocabulary of space, its waves of inhabitants and those who dreamed and built it into existence. These performers and designers become at one with the Surrealists across their existence, evoking fantastic dislocations of visual meaning. Unreal City is a powerful example of artists giving way to the creative subconscious and, in the process, taking both the verbal and visual exercises of Surrealism into the dimensional realm of movement. This visceral experience is as much dependent upon design elements as it is on choreography. Bravo to the ensemble, including costume, sound, setting and lighting designers and crew; to director Melli Hoppe; to Butler University Theatre for taking risks into the community.