SNIPS SERIES, Running With Scissors, at Link's Hall. In this series devoted to works in progress, actors have their scripts in hand and instructions are given from just offstage in midperformance. This approach lends an aura of discovery to the festival, which has three lineups each weekend through March 28. In this public incubator process the pieces may be unpolished today but significantly better next week.
Or next year. Still, some projects don't work now. Lindsay Porter's monologue comparing the Cubs' 2003 pennant loss to her miscarriage is too amorphous to have an effect even though the potential for simultaneous comedy and poignancy is obvious. Likewise Timothy Hendrickson in 1984: An Oral Fiction for 3 Voices brings honesty and humor to his college journals from that year, putting them in context with references to the politics and music of the time and drawing on Orwell's book. But the work doesn't yet build to a rewarding conclusion.
Further along in development are Alison Halstead's The Invisible Man, a meditation on Ralph Ellison's 1952 book and contemporary black men, and Maia Morgan's Invalid Women, examining the "rest cure" prescribed for such talents as Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Edith Wharton. Both pieces aim to provoke, but Halstead's is the more effective: offering an intense delivery of Ellison's words, she takes on a pimp's poses and strut against a backdrop of hip-hop videos. Morgan's characterizations are too vague at this stage for an audience that hasn't done all the research she has.
By far the most arresting piece is In Between, by choreographer Heather Hartley and art director David de Castro: artists throw paint on dancers who incorporate the slippery substance into their movement, creating something new at every instant.