It is always a treat to begin the Fringe Festival with a production that embodies the Fringe’s dedication to genuinely innovative theatre.
One such production is the agenda, a brief snippet of experimental theatre housed in the Redrum theatre at Fort Fringe. The production is the brainchild of Sound Play, commissioned by Artistic Directors, Leah Asher, Amy Cohen and Jennifer Torrence. The work was inspired by the preface of “Leaves of Grass” by the American humanist Walt Whitman.
The three women represent three individual art forms: sculpture, dance and music. In the beginning the differences between the art forms complement each other but remain distinct. Each of the following sequences further connects dance, music and sculptor together. The sculptor would be moving, creating a new sculpture right before our eyes and the dancer would add a prop that allows her to make music with her body.
The climax is a well-developed finale where all performers create movement, music and sculpture interdependently.
Two factors that make the agenda so engaging are the verbal repetition of Whitman’s text throughout the piece and the quick way the production moves from section to section. The strength of the performance lies in the performers’ interpretation of the text. It is simple and down to earth, making for an enjoyable show whether you fully understand the context or not.
The costumes are grey modern-day clothes which don’t distract from the events on stage and allow for easy movement. The use of sheets and lamps to create shadows in the back of the stage behind the performers establish the illusion of a deeper and larger set.
A lot of unusual props are employed, including a flower pot xylophone, a hula hoop filled with beads and three foot chains of rubber bands with tiny cymbals strung onto them.
the agenda is very impressive in its simple, committed deconstruction of preconceived understandings of art. It is experimental, for sure, and recommended for anyone who enjoys “Leaves of Grass”, rubber band sculpture, interpretive dance and acrobatics.
the agenda has 2 more performances at The Redrum – Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave, Washington, DC.