Theatre: NEOARTIC

Published On March 3, 2019 | By CLARISSA WITTENBERG | ARTS & CULTURE, THEATRE

NEOARCTIC

12 SONGS. 12 SOUNDSCAPES. 12 LANDSCAPES. 1 PLANET.

A COLLABORATION BETWEEN HOTEL PRO FORMA AND
LATVIAN RADIO CHOIR 2016

 

THE KENNEDY CENTER: WORLD STAGES
February 13, 2019 – February 16, 2019

LYRICS BY SJON

 

NEOARCTIC is a stunning performance with actors/singers in costumes studded with metal patches moving on a simple rough-surfaced stage and in front of a canvas that serves as a screen for film and video. It would be a radical oversimplification to say that this production is merely a warning about climate change.

The performance provided not only a dream-like view of the earth in its current state – filled with glaciers melting and forests burning, but also a vision of our destroyed future – if we fail to heed the warnings of experts.  I was struck by how heartless we must seem to those who actually live amongst all the melting ice, the splitting glaciers, the dimming aurora borealis, and the spiking temperatures.

 

 

The script is stripped down. The songs, beautifully and clearly sung in English, tell us stories of grain, mud, minerals, plastic, dust, and vapors. The section entitled “Song for Respiration” foreshadows a time when even breathing becomes difficult. The music here was very disturbing indeed as it rose and fell like a halting breath. Songs of turbulence, chance, electricity, temperature, optics, and the final section “Song for Colours” was simultaneously stunning and distressing. We are presented with a portrait of all that we are bound to lose if we do not pay attention.

 

 

We tend to think of climate change and rising temperatures in the broadest sense. But but have you ever considered, in more specific and concrete terms, of what it might mean for us? That, for example, our ground may become so wet that it all turns to mud and we can no longer walk on it and our houses sink and disappear?

Be grateful for these artists: the actors, filmmakers, songwriters, singers, set designers, and costumers who, in the beauty of their work, remind us of all that we have to lose.

 

 


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About The Author

CLARISSA WITTENBERG
was a founder and editor of the Washington Review, a journal of arts and literature that documented cultural life in Washington for over 28 years. She is now the Creative Director of the Washington Film Institute and a Contributor to District Journal.

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