Performing Arts: Theater
January 7, 2023
Is our time really up, or can we reverse action for a redo of the ecological rape of our world?

Audiences at the Bam Fishman Fisher Theater experienced ARE WE NOT DRAWN ONWARD TO NEW ERA by Ontroerend Goed a Flemish theater group known for performing outside the lines.

Six actors, one balloon, a blizzard of candy ball colored plastic bags, a begonia tree and giant male statue reminiscent of ancient 30 foot Kouros found on its back on the Greek island of Naxos appeared, disappeared and reappeared in the space of 75 minutes.

In a surrealistic ode to humanity's disregard for the dissolution of nature through consistently crass, destructive actions a vibrantly visual and nearly non-verbal performance art piece unfolds.

A small tree stands in the center, its bright green leaves glistening against the single, crimson apple. Soon, a woman and man enter. Yes, she (Karolien De Bleser) takes the auspicious bite, so does he (Michael Pas). And so begins the disintegration of creation.

Minimalist movements accumulate: four actors point fingers like little shotguns, smile, and speak some gibberish; a round man (Angelo Tijssens) rolls out from under the curtain, jiggling and catching a balloon from the sky; an agile man in track pants (Jonas Vermeulen) rips the tree apart--limb by limb. Brightly colored plastic bags rain down and the performers drag in the statue, severed in several parts and put back together again like Humpty Dumpty, ropes wrapped around limbs and hauled to a standing position.

The curtain drops and the scene, projected on a screen, is meticulously deconstructed, step by step, from end to beginning. Will humanity make the same mistakes; selfishly disrupt mother earth? Perhaps, but according to Ontroerend, at least we should give it another go.

ARE WE NOT DRAWN ONWARD TO NEW ERA is part of the Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival during the APAP 2023 Conference.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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