4 to Watch at Radar L.A.

9.28.2013

By Jerry Portwood

Experimental puppetry and queer stories: Dennis Cooper's 'Jerk,' Basil Twist's 'Dogugaeshi,' David Roussève's 'Stardust,' & Luis Alfaro's 'St. Jude'

Radar L.A., the international contemporary theater fest, continues through Oct. 1 at REDCAT in Los Angeles. While there are many exciting experimental theater projects (many with great, edgy puppetry), here are four queer stories that you don't want to miss. For the complete schedule and information, visit the website.

Johnathan Capdevielle, Dennis Cooper, and Gisèle Vienne present "Jerk"

In a stark room, using only one actor and a few hand-puppets, director Gisèle Vienne creates a "harrowing staging of the novel Jerk by Dennis Cooper, once deemed “the most dangerous writer in America.” Told from the perspective of David Brooks, one of Texas serial killer Dean Corll’s young accomplices, Jerk descends into the minds of those responsible for the brutal torture, rape and killing of more than 25 teenage boys in the early 1970s. With a deceptively formidable presence and increasing emotional force, performer Johnathan Capdevielle illustrates a shattering series of events that culminated in Corli’s death by one of his accomplices, in a sinister and unforgettable tour-de-force."

Basil Twist and Yumiko Tanaka present "Dogugaeshi"

"Visionary puppeteer Basil Twist's hypnotic collaboration with master musician Yumiko Tanaka is a stunning visual journey inspired by the multifold paper panels of Japanese dogugaeshi. Delving into this rarefied traditional form while creating a contemporary spin, Twist unfolds elegant landscapes and elaborate geometric patterns that reflect both ancient and contemporary Japanese culture—bamboo thickets, sly foxes, soaring bridges and dense cityscapes—on hundreds of hand-painted screens. Accompanied by Tanaka, who blends her live performance on shamisen and other traditional instruments with scintillating electronics, Dogugaeshi layers dexterous puppetry with video, light and sound to create a deeply felt meditation on the theatrical experience and the power of this singular art form."

Watch a clip below:

Dogugaeshi Short Reel 2012 from Basil Twist on Vimeo.

The World Premiere of Luis Alfaro's "St. Jude"

"Highway 99 becomes an emotionally charged memory lane for writer/performer Luis Alfaro when his father has a stroke, compelling him to revisit the Central Valley of his childhood. As the family gathers around the ailing patriarch, the artist, activist and MacArthur Fellow (Electricidad, Oedipus el Rey), conjures up memories of his youth (complete with an old-school slide show): from picking grapes to gospel-infused tent revivals, family holidays to running away from home at 16. Directed by Robert Egan, St. Jude is—in Alfaro’s words—“going from ‘what I am’ to ‘who I was.’ ” And it’s a remarkable journey rich with laughter, pathos and surprising revelations."

David Roussève/Reality's "Stardust"

"Alpert Award-winning director-choreographer David Roussève's dance-driven works weave storytelling and movement into indelible performances at the intersection of dance and theater. His latest, Stardust, is a coming of age story for the Twitter generation, in which the central character never makes a physical appearance. Present only in unanswered texts projected on multiple screens, a gay African-American teenager reaches out with growing urgency as the dark realities of his life become apparent. On stage the dancing unleashes a full-bodied expression of emotional states that contrast the intimate romanticism of Nat King Cole with the rough edges of original hip-hop inflected music by d. Sabela grimes, while Stardust plays out against Cari Ann Shim Sham*'s immersive video imagery."

Watch a clip below:

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