Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reviving "pool (no water)”

Fans of the now-defunct experimental theatre company Rude Guerrilla will want to nab a seat for pool (no water), the next installment of Studio SCR. The movement-based piece, written by British playwright Mark Ravenhill, is produced by Dave Barton who founded Rude Guerrilla in 1997, and his newest endeavor, Monkey Wrench Collective, is just as dedicated to envelope-pushing theatre.

And this show will definitely raise some eyebrows. The premise involves a famous artist who invites a group of friends to her luxurious home for a reunion. But when a horrific diving accident (hence the play’s title) brings the celebration to a close, the friends begin to consider a sinister plan: Could her suffering be their next art project?

“It speaks to the things we think about, but can’t talk about,” says Barton, who is known as the US expert on Ravenhill’s work. Barton has directed more Ravenhill pieces than any other American, and has lectured on his “in your face” theatre at the University of Greenwich in London. He says he is drawn to the difficult, often times uncomfortable subject matter because of the conversations these plays spark.

“I can’t see spending the time and resources on a play that doesn’t make a difference,” he says. “There is a secular evangelical aspect to theatre. We want people to hear and receive the message.”

In addition to its bracing subject matter, pool (no water) is unique in that it employs a technique known as movement theatre. Movement theatre involves the addition of choreography and physical action to lend subtext and emotion to the play. These movements may reinforce or completely contradict the dialogue, giving audiences a glimpse into the characters’ minds. If it sounds hard to wrap your head around, it is: Even Barton admits to being slow to warm up to the idea of movement theatre. “I always thought it was pretentious and overly arty,” he says. “This piece totally changed my mind.”

Barton first produced pool (no water) with Monkey Wrench Collective in 2010, but says that this staging includes an expanded cast, completely reworked dance and movement and a “rawer” feel. Even those who have seen the play produced before are in for a new experience.

“They truly will never have seen anything else like this in Orange County.”

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