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Beagle147 (profile) wrote,
on 3-5-2006 at 1:17am
Current mood: enthralled
Subject: Sinner, A Self-Destructive Solo for Two Men
I went tonight with Hilary and Dan to see this show called Sinner, by Stan Won't Dance. It was by these two british guys, each of whom played a different side of the personality of the Soho Bomber from London. It started off with them lying on the ground amidst wreckage - literally chairs hanging from the ceiling. It was in the black box theater, so there were probably about 30-40 people in the room, and the stage is not elevated, it's just a reflective dance floor. So the guys got up eventually and did this show where they seamlessly integrated (did I steal that phrase from a review?) spoken dialogue and dance. Not normal dance, mind you, but VERY physical dance, where they literally threw each other around. So the guys walked into this gay bar, and immediately posed the question "do you know who the person beside you is?" It started out with the tall guy being rico suave in the gay bar, who sleeps around and does drugs, basically, and the short guy was really nervous, it was his first time in a gay bar, etc. So they were flirting kind of. Meanwhile, the text is very repetitive, which was cool. I mean like they say the same lines over and over, and do the same movements. It was kind of cyclical in a way? But it just kind of added to the confusion, because the whole point of the play is what was going on inside this guy's mind on the night he exploded a nail bomb in a gay bar. It's all his mental struggle. So as the show progresses, the tall guy eventually gets the short guy to take some drugs, and they start talking more philosophically. They had a really interesting bit about hate as an emotion, that feeling hate towards other people is feeling something, and other people hating you was feeling something. The tall guy also posed theoretically (kinda) blowing up something to gain celebrity status, while accomplishing something. Because after they talked about hate as an emotion, they started talking about who they hate. It started off as people with big glasses, and people with acne, then progressed to losers and assholes, and finally niggers, pakis, and queers (sorry, I wouldn't use that language, but it's in the show). It was just this progression inside the guy's mind of how he got to the point of hating people so much he would explode a nail bomb. Two times during the show the tall guy got phone calls from his conscience, while the short guy writhed on the ground, literally being beaten by some invisible force. Eventually both times he got beaten to the point that he was sprawled out on the ground in a crucifix position. The third phone call went to the short guy, and he repeated word for word what the tall guy had said to the conscience in the first phone call. Ah wait, before the third phone call there was a point where the short guy put on the tall guy's jacket. Also, each guy had a duffle bag...the short guy said his was filled with clothes, and we assume the tall guy's is filled with explosives. After the short guy gets off the phone, he asks the tall guy again if he has the right bag, and they go through a little thing with that. The tall guy asks when they would have gotten switched, the short guy says "I dunno, when I was on the phone" (both other times he had said "when you were on the phone"), and the tall guy answers "you were never on the phone." Short guy patted his pockets and realized there was no phone in there. Right after that they switch roles in repeating the dialogue. Each line was probably repeated at least 3-4 times throughout the show. Now they switched physical positions on stage and in the dance, and they switched lines...just completely swapped characters. Very shortly after that, the short guy repeated something he had said several times at the beginning about why he had come into the gay bar in the first place, but changed the demeanor and added a few "fucking queers." Other than that, it was the same. So basically they illustrated how this man (the Soho Bomber) went from just being a guy who walked into a gay bar with a duffle bag to blowing the place up. It was just really well done. At the end of the play, the short man just snapped, and he nailed the tall man to a table, then put the duffle bag down where it had been sitting at the beginning of the show, and all the lights turned off but the lights on the duffle bag.

After the show there was a Q&A...most of the questions were stupid ("Who was on the other end of the phone calls?"), but some of them elicited very good answers. The two guys who put on the show were very knowledgable. Hilary asked what they had changed, if anything, between performing the show in the UK and in America. They said they had to change a few words. One of the funny examples was there's a line near the beginning of the play saying that when he was walking into the gay bar he avoided the man next to the cigarette machine, which they had to change from "fag machine" in England. Apparently not everyone is familiar with British slang for cigarettes. They also said they had contemplated changing the word Paki, but there was no American equivalent. I'm not sure why people wouldn't get who they were referring to anyway. They also spoke a little bit about the background of the story. Apparently this man was a serial bomber in 1999, and he used nail bombs to blow up a black neighborhood, an Indian neighborhood, and this gay bar. They read a lot of police reports from the time and did a ton of research, and found out that this guy was most likely a closeted gay man struggling to accept his own sexuality. That was the theory behind a lot of the play being a flirtation between these two men. It went from him being a normal gay man walking into a gay bar to a man blowing up a gay bar, and everything in between. It really emphasized the choice this guy made between being those two people, either a normal gay man walking into a gay bar, or a serial bomber. My favorite thing that they talked about, and I can't remember the question now, delved into the religious imagery in the show. Hilary told me after the show, though I hadn't noticed it during, that there was a part when a cross was projected onto the stage, and it slowly morphed into a swastika. The guy, Liam, who...choreographed? the show and also starred as the short guy, talked about how this man had become his own martyr, and he explained that that was behind the ending of each phone call with him lying in a crucifix position. I really appreciated that he said this, because the play moved so quickly that it was hard to catch a lot of the deeper meaning imagery stuff. I had wondered about the picture on the cover of the program, which shows a man (Liam) with two nails in his head. I mean, this obviously has a lot of conotations with Jesus...they are the same kind of crucifiction nails, crown of thorns, etc. But the nails are placed in such a manner that they jut out like devil horns. The man in the story made himself out to be Christ, but in doing so, became a Sinner.

(The program picture is different, but it's the same basic principle.)

I found this article/review on the UFPA webpage, so I thought I'd share it.

UFPA presents
Stan Won't Dance
Tuesday, February 28 - Saturday, March 4, 2006, 7:30 p.m.
Phillips Center Black Box Theatre


British physical theater company Stan Won't Dance brings its groundbreaking performance Sinner to the Phillips Center Black Box Theatre for a five-night run on Tuesday, February 28 through Saturday, March 4, 2006. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. There will not be performance discussions.

Stan Won't Dance is comprised of Liam Steel and Rob Tannion, who met as performers with DV8 Physical Theatre. Wanting to perform issue-based works that fully integrate text and movement, the duo, along with executive director Ellie Beedham, formed Stan Won't Dance in 2004. Steel initially trained as an actor and moved into dance, while Tannion did the opposite, forming a complementary relationship that works during performances and during the creative process.

Their inaugural work is Sinner. Based on the events surrounding David Copeland-the "Soho bomber" who attacked London's black, Asian and gay communities with nail bombs in April 1999, killing three and injuring dozens-Tannion and Steel, along with writer Ben Payne, prepared for the production by reading every news article and police report on the case that they could find, and explored related issues and similar events. Sinner moves from a nervous pub flirtation between two gay men to a chilling psychological thriller, exploring prejudice, sexuality and the blurred boundaries between good and evil.

"You soon realize that good and evil just depends on your viewpoint, your social and cultural position and what your reference points are," Steel and Tannion explained to "Icons of evil are easier and more preferable to distance ourselves from, and we can therefore take little responsibility for their actions-they are not like us. Or are they?"

Sinner seamlessly combines movement and spoken word, and an eerie set and lighting design reflect the show's intensity.

"Put all of these layers of spoken and physical text/choreography together, counted out and timed precisely to each track of music, then place it on a stage that is a sloping smashed mirrored floor with holes in it and furniture embedded in it and you start to build up a picture," said Tannion and Steel. "It's challenging, but ultimately very rewarding to both watch and perform."

Critics agree-Sinner has been met with resounding acclaim. The Daily Telegraph called the production "one of the most theatrically thrilling productions I've seen... period."

Ben Wright will replace Rob Tannion during Sinner's North American tour.

Sinner contains profanity and other material of an adult nature, video light effects, loud music and smoke.
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