Flying Words Project | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Flying Words Project


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The more theater I see, the more I'm convinced there is a direct relation between simplicity and power. The simpler the performance--the less encumbered it is with inessential props, costumes, scene changes, sound cues, elaborate multimedia effects, arcane performance theories--the more directly the work speaks to the audience. Which is why I am so taken with the work of Kenny Lerner and Peter Cook, who perform under the name Flying Words Project. Using only the most basic elements--words and gestures--Cook and Lerner create highly evocative performances I could watch for hours. In "Einstein Under the Apple Tree," for example, Cook, who is deaf, uses pantomime, dance, and American Sign Language to create fleeting images of planets turning through space, quasars pulsating at the edge of time, Einstein eating an apple, and a deer leaping onto the field of a Civil War battle, while Lerner provides just enough narration, often just a word of two--"A deer!" "Soldiers!" In gray. And blue"--to clue in those of us who don't know ASL. Some have compared Flying Words Project's circular stories to Allen Ginsberg's poetry, though Cook's striking, surreal imagery--a man "swimming" through rocky earth, stars and galaxies shooting out through the opening of a tent--is much more reminiscent of the crazy dream logic of animated cartoons. Randolph Street Gallery, March 27 and 28 (756 N. Milwaukee, 666-7737). Friday and Saturday, 8 PM. $6.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Roy Sowers.

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