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Party People

Aug. 22nd, 2012 | 03:35 pm

Ashland, Oregon
at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Party PeopleParty People
by UNIVERSES (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, and William Ruiz/Ninja)
developed and directed by Liesl Tommy

The authors of this world-premiere, commissioned American Revolutions production told us in the post-performance audience talk-back that the Young Lords and the Black Panthers had effected their lives even though they had no knowledge of the groups themselves.  One creator's first job was in clinic started by the Young Lords, and another routinely benefited from social programs started by the Black Panthers.  These racially-identified local community organizations truly changed the neighborhoods and residents' lives. The artistic challenge for UNIVERSES, the authors said, was to tell the current generation about this legacy in a way which the young will hear.

The captivating response to the challenge is Party People, a performance piece that intimately dances, raps, and acts out the politics, the energy, the families, the fear, the conspiracy, the failure, and the success of the party people in a unfamiliar, non-white-bread format.  The approach, the music, and execution stirred pasty-skinned, hip-hop hating, old fogy me.  The brilliant moments excellently done took me in, especially because the presentation is not  done in a comfortable routine style.Read more...Collapse )

In one scene, four of the men dance in rhythm for seemingly forever as a story is told.  Even the youngest, Livingston, was pouring with sweat in the effort to keep the beat of that storyline going.  It is an apt symbolic moment for the whole production.  The performers all worked hard and kept at it until their message got through to us. Got through our skins and not just through our minds.

PP is a world premiere ready for prime time.  It will benefit from an editor/director who wasn't also a co-creator.  There are some wonderful moments -- like the song that starts the second act -- that will be more wonderful when they are shorter.  PP needs a bit of work to leave us wanting more.

Ozdachs Rating
4 and 1/2 Syntaxes out of 5

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