Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day three at Ringling Festival

The crowds continued to pour into Ringling's International Arts Festival Friday. Many of them filled the Cook Theater to see Deganit Shemy & Company's intense and provocative "Arena" - which I tried to give my impressions on for a story in Saturday's paper. I say "tried" because I don't have a dance background. The piece is hard to put into words and quite different from anything I've ever seen. You have to experience it for yourself.

Tonight I went to a late performance of Ella Hickson's "Eight." Plays are more my element. And from what I've seen at the festival so far, this has been my favorite. The work is about the faithlessness of contemporary British 20-somethings featuring eight monologues. For more about it, read here. But only four of the monologues are presented with each performance. Apparently the audience gets to vote on which four they would like to see. Somehow I missed that part.

Before the play begins, the actors step on stage one by one and stand there like a statue until the house lights dim. The cast includes Adam Carpenter, Devereau Chumrau, Tom Ferguson, Kerri Hall, Will Little, Solomon Mousley, Gwendolen Duckworth and Lizzie Watts. One-third of the cast are students from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory.

Cast members take their seats at the rear of the stage when the play begins. One at the time, they come up and tell their stories. Their tales have a heavy air of wonderful wit balanced with drama before they expose the root of their troubles. Hickson is to be commended on the play's gripping dialogue. The actors did a remarkable job bringing her script to life.

In Friday's 10:30 late show, we heard from the voice of a prostitute, a successful businessman whose life suddenly changes in an instant, a gay man with an unexpected secret and a woman wrapped up in infidelity. Each story has its own moral jewel, which makes "Eight" so appealing. I can see why this up-and-coming playwright has swept awards for it world-wide.

I just wish I could see the other four monologues.

- January Holmes

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