It reminds me of Maria Hassabi’s Staged, which used to be the topic of a draft I started. However, I deleted the draft because I couldn’t even remember which performance I was writing about. Tonight’s show reminds me of some thoughts I had after watching Staged.
The Hendrix Project is a highly performative piece. It is a meditation on the late 1960’s world and youth culture. Besides responding to Hendrix’s live music, beautiful young people are doing what they typically do in the stands of a concert: sharing drugs and having spontaneous sex. Indulging moments are amplified through slow-motion movements and retrospective eye expressions. Three translucent screens provide from behind the stands rich context of the 1960s including the Vietnam War, TV advertising, hallucinating images, and of course, Jimi Hendrix.
The performance is very pleasant to watch because actors are highly concentrated and present in the elevated moments. During this undemanding watching, thoughts about the past and the influence of the past emergence naturally. This piece hands the space and time to the audience. The experience of watching and thinking was great. It is not easy to analyze or explain the experience in the frame of theater, although it is more theatrical than most performance pieces. It happens in a short given time, has a centralized event, and communicates ideas and emotions. The differences from most theater works are: people on stage are silent stereotypes, they don’t express any idea, and they don’t change until the end.
Staged is similar to this piece in terms of slow and sculptural movement and visual beauty. It was also pleasant to watch, but only for much shorter time. I got bored soon and felt disappointed when I stepped out of the theater. Today I realized that the disappointment was not caused by the general form of the piece, but by how it was specifically conducted. The lack of intensity and context made Staged hard to watch in a theater setting. But I can imagine it much more attractive on the street or in a gallery.