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Theodora Skipitares & Co.

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A familiar presence in New York's avant-garde performance community, Theodora Skipitares combines puppetry with installation art in her new piece Underground, making its midwest debut this weekend. In just over an hour, Underground visits a variety of real and mythic subterraneans. Among them are Hades's bride Persephone, an immortal Egyptian mummy, Count Dracula in his earth-filled coffin, baby Jessica McClure in her well, a nuclear family in its nuclear fallout shelter, and a 60s antiwar radical who went, yes, underground during the Vietnam war. These characters, whose peculiar monologues comprise the work's text, are portrayed by doll-like puppets (manipulated by visible puppeteers from New York and Chicago) who inhabit tiny, detailed environments designed by Skipitares (the fallout shelter, for instance, is stocked with miniature cans of V-8 and evaporated milk). The diminutive size of the "actors" and the bizarre pathos of their stories invites the audience's voyeuristic superiority--in order to challenge it. Underground launches Randolph Street Gallery's series "Manipulation: Artists Perform With Objects," organized by Matthew Owens and Kaja Overstreet and continuing with performances by Joe Silovsky and Dina Morelli on February 5 and 6 and Brendan de Vallance and Chris Sullivan February 12 and 13. Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee, 666-7737. January 29 and 30: Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 8 and 10 PM. $10; $18 for all three performances in the series.

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

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