Another reaction from Dustin Wingett, this time in response to Rodrigo Toscano’s BathHouse reading at the Dreamland Theater:
After reading through Collapsible Poetics Theater, I knew I was in for something…different when I went to see Rodrigo Toscano perform/speak at the Dreamland Theater. I also knew beforehand that he had picked a few EMU students and faculty members to help him put on his mini-plays, so I kind of got the sense that it was going to be a rather improvisational affair with little rehearsal. Turns out I was sort of right, but that only served to better the performances.
The first play/poem was the Truax series in the beginning of the book. I had already witnessed some students performing/practicing this for class the day before so I knew what it was going to be like and I wasn’t disappointed. The poem itself was very playful and toyed around with the sound of language, and the constant four line repetition gave it a kind of musical quality. I was surprised at how quiet Rodrigo was though, as I expect someone…with a more booming voice maybe?
After that, came the Spine which is a complete 180 from the Truax series. Where the Truax poems are light, playful and full of quick spoken line and rebuttals, the Spine is filled dark, Kafkaesque undertones with hardly any language. At once I felt that I was transported to some kind of nightmarish dreamscape or into someone’s inner thoughts. I had a feeling that I shouldn’t be watching what I was seeing, that I was an intruder. It was uncomfortable and brilliant at the same time to watch people roam around, jump up and grab at nothing, hide under and on top of tables, and being stuck to the ladder. Fear and anxiety were the dominant themes here and the actors pulled it off really well.
Then the last poem once again turned it around. By far the funniest poem, it was only performed by Rodrigo and one other person. It was another back and forth poem, but different from the Truax series in that this one was characterized by constant long pauses and very short sentences. In the beginning of the poem only a few words were spoken per line, then a five second pause, and so on. Alliteration and constant repetition were also employed to give this poem a fun quality like the Truax series with the B’s and R’s being the most repeated letter. Bilk, Bilk was the catch phrase and for some reason was extremely funny. It reminded me of someone trying to desperately friend someone on Facebook or something and the other person shooting them down constantly. I would have loved to see Rodrigo and his gang perform more as it was a great time; it almost took my mind of fire hazard growing behind me with 100 people crammed into one tiny space.