People who have never performed in their life can take the stage this week at CounterPulse. While artists-in-residence Kegan Marling and Eric Kupers spent the past few months creating new work to premiere this week, they also re-envisioned the black box theater space, turning platforms, nooks, and crannies into performance areas, and situating audience seats to surround the action and also exist smack in the middle of the stage.
Based on a March 12 work-in-progress preview, the resulting performance will likely offer an up close and personal program of narrative dance theater works linked by each artist’s unusual use of the space and the intimate perspectives created. The open presentation and arrangement makes the resident artist performance series double as a creative venue remix.
Prior to the shared residency at CounterPulse, Marling and Kupers crossed artistic paths at U.C. Davis and while performing in the Bay Area. Though Marling’s new work Jump Ship Midway is thematically distinct from Kupers’s Friend, the creations compliment one another, employing fragmented storytelling and allowing close proximity to performers for a cohesive shared evening. For Marling, the re-imagined space begins as a club concert environment with an elevated area and three small platforms in the center of the stage. Along with James Graham, Mica Sigourney, and Nol Simonse, Marling dances on and between these elevated areas with highly physical and character-nuanced movement passages. Through spoken word, they deliver anecdotes, memories, and reflections about life transitions navigated by gay men. One’s placement in the rearranged space and proximity to the performers determines which sections become amplified, overriding the usual cues of lighting which draw attention in proscenium theater based on a particular vantage point.
Friend, performed by Kupers’s Dandelion Dancetheater, relies on a certain degree of darkness. Since dim surroundings augment the impact of sound, the audience’s auditory senses perk up in this environment. Instruments played from different areas of the theater and the hand-clapping of performers direct one's gaze. Projections surround the audience from all directions with images of brain scans, providing an unusual set for certain scenes. Friend honors a close friend of Kupers who passed away recently, and also mines the nature of friendship.
The joint performance of Marling and Kupers/Dandelion Dancetheater showcases CounterPulse like you’ve never seen it. Don’t be afraid to get close.
COUNTERPULSE ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE KEGAN MARLING AND DANDELION DANCETHEATER
Thur/31- Sat/2, 8 p.m. also Sun/3, 7 p.m., $12-$17
1310 Mission, SF