Gloria’s Cause knocks me out at the Push Festival


@ the Push Festival 2011

Gloria’s Cause is a knock-down drag-out fight between dance, movement, theatre, and rock, and the winner is We the People. If I had to help you get a grip on the show, I could call it a Rock Opera. Or I could say it’s as if Frank Zappa dosed the Tea Party with mushrooms, and then jammed with them on Jerry Springer.

There were at least two separate moments in the show when I was more moved than I’ve ever been by dance, and I mean an emotional arrest of the kind that happens seldom in a cynical viewer’s lifetime. At first I thought it was just Jessie Smith‘s dance solo, a whiplashing outburst of dangerous punctuation, throwing herself to the edge of a cliff and then pulling out at the last moment. But then she went over and picked up an electric guitar and the show moved on, and later there was a pantomime American Eagle that confessed its shortcomings, lunged into the audience to sit on some laps, then started writhing and stripping into hot red underwear, making gutteral noises and finally struggling and kicking around on the floor while the rock got louder and louder and it happened again – I had an out-of-body experience, looking down at myself and saying “I’m seeing something right now that will change me forever.”

Gloria’s Cause, created in Seattle by Dayna Hanson, chews on the ideas and emotions surrounding the American Revolution: from the drunken, boorish pique of a George Washington whose indecisiveness has been criticized, to the tremors in the hearts of the founding fathers as their pens signed the declaration of independence. But by starting the Continental Congress with a pouring of tea from a little red tea set, Gloria’s Cause reminds us that the dusty doings of the Founding Fathers are front-page news once again, in the form of Palin slogans and Beck rants.

Every time I got settled into something or other about the play – oh, I understand this moment, this is a satirical poke at the founding fathers, or whatever, the play would explode like a can of coke in a microwave and go somewhere else. The Congress unravels when Hanson comes in with a Benjamin Franklin action figure and shouts down the discussion, and before I knew it there was dancing and music and fighting and shoving and it kept going and going.

The show is finishing its second and last performance as I type but you should definitely keep an eye on all the players in your future audiencing.  Can’t find a full credit list on the web… which does make it a little difficult…

Check out this Flickr gallery of the show’s earlier performances – things seem slightly different, which isn’t surprising seeing how loose and freeflowing the whole thing was…

(eagle photo: Ian Goodrich, Portland Mercury.  GW photo: dayna hanson . com )

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