Studio Theatre Showcase – Amusingly Bizarre

David Levine with his students
Photo: Fileona Dkhar

With the onset of the end of ECLA of Bard’s first semester, also came the deadlines for most students to finish their final papers. For those taking David Levine’s Studio Theatre class, the final projects were of a different kind. For these 9 students, the culmination of the class consisted in the presentation of their theatrical work.

The students were assigned to stage 3 plays, which enabled them to try out different tasks, from acting to directing or even set design. The art studios in the basement of P98 became the stage for these plays, and the corridor leading to the staircase nestled what seemed to be an audio device in the disguise of female genitalia. With this hard work, an installation of neon lights and much mechanical maneuvering, the basement was ready to present the plays to an intrigued audience, which included external guests and members of the ECLA community.

Of the three plays, two were shown in alternate rotations and one in a continuous loop. By around 7:30, the audience had gathered in this setting and so started the journey, with whichever play one wanted to attend.

To start out David Levine’s “all-out art/performance circus,” students Nadia Shevchenko, Cole Evelev and Rita Paramalingam showcased their rendition of the Depersonalization disorder in their electro-club themed play 3rd Person. With an invigorating set design by Cole Evelev, the garage-turned-club led into a fascinating exploration, allowing the public to voyeuristically view the experience of the disorder itself.

After spending much time experiencing the enigma of Rita Paramalingam’ s traumatized role, the mood changed upon entering the set of Lotte Bram’s direction of Goethe’s Der Erlkönig. Krista Kaufmann and David Kretz acted as the play’s enchanted, ill-fated son and, respectively, protective, staunch father. Sitting next to a wall covered with paper cut-outs in the shape of trees, the audience was emotionally moved by the tumultuous emotional  journey of David Kretz’s character. With Lotte’s melodious voice singing in the background throughout the journey and Krista’s innocent portrayal of a fascinated yet frightened boy, the play was all in all a success.

Next came Marie Schleef’s enactment of Elfriede Jelinek’s Präsident Abendwind. With David Kretz acting in yet another role, this amusing and strange presentation also included Valerie Pochko, Lilla Bognar and the director herself. The audience entered the brightly-lit room as tourists, and was enclosed within a case made of metal pipes. Despite telling a most bizarre tale of a man aiming to be elected President under the protective wealth of his cannibalistic economic ventures, the playfulness developed by all the characters contoured an altogether bright play, as bright as the room itself. As the performance progressed, an overwhelming presentation of strange behavior and a barrage of German dialogue constituted the last of a wholly amusing night.

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