Until now The Grass is Always Greener… has been presented only indoors, utilizing all of the traditional components of a theater production: stage, curtains, lighting, music, as well as photographic projections. In this controlled environment every element is specifically manipulated to craft the final product and to bridge the gap between the spectator and the performer. We are able to draw the audience in and guide their focus in the direction we want to lead them. For example: in one section, a character lost in stark isolation is illustrated by the dramatic image of a solitary figure standing in a single spotlight…in another, a sense of community and joyful festivity is felt when bright lights illuminate the performers as they dance together to the lively pulsation of drums and impassioned lyrics.
Removing the backbone
October 1, 2014 by Anabella Lenzu
The Grass is Always Greener… is a vivid political piece dealing with immigration of past and present day. Throughout the full length show the audience is taken on a journey of interwoven tales through the eyes of immigrants coming to the US in search if freedom. Through movement and text we catch a glimpse of the internal struggles they faced- the bitter sweet duality of saying farewell to the old world in hopes of something better across the ocean (or the border)- as well as external forces of injustice.
As we prepare to perform amidst the crowds in a public outdoor space we approach the work with a new goal in mind. Removed from the confines of the theater, our audience has transformed into a fluctuating sea of people and our soundtrack is the unceasing loop of car horns, airplanes, shouts of passers by, etc. No lights, no music, no stage. Face to face with our audience, we must remain present and respond to the ever-changing atmosphere while projecting our energy out in all directions. For these performances, the choice was made not to delve deep into emotional content or push strong social/political commentary. This new setting poses a challenge where anything too solemn may quickly lose the audience’s attention, and we also want to avoid seeming as if we are holding a demonstration or a protest regarding immigration.
This is not to say that we have removed the backbone from the piece, or that we do not wish the audience to find some meaning in the performance. The underlying make-up is still present, but now our primary objective is to captivate onlookers and include them in the overall experience. Something interesting happens when we are no longer performing up on a stage. We are literally sharing common ground with the audience and have the unique opportunity to relate to them in a very natural way. Without the barrier of a stage audience members feel less removed from the work and we are able to view one another more as peers and allies. Maybe they will be reminded of their own story or that of a loved one…perhaps the memory of their homeland. If nothing else, they will be entertained and inspired.
Article written by Lauren Ohmer, Assistant to the choreographer & DanceDrama dancer.