Monday, March 2, 2009

Frigid New York: habeas corpus

By Le-Anne
in the style of a “happening” • contact physical improv • philosophical • interactive-ish • you get a little surprise gift at the end!

BOTTOM LINE: True performance art.

This year Frigid presents, habeas corpus, a performance art piece driven by the question “What would you like to be rid of?” This experience, produced by “the real kim harmon,” not only asks audience members to contribute by writing something they would like to be rid of on a blue card and depositing them in a case minutes before the show begins but also by inviting people to submit responses to to be incorporated into the current production. Various responses, presumably from said online submissions, as well as past mailings, voicemails, and e-mails from the original conception of this project a year ago, are projected on the back wall. Things such as “The dress I lost my virginity in,” “unnecessary speechification,” and “rape” flash by.

Meanwhile, the three actors, (Kim Harmon, Laureen Briggs, Denzil Meyers), and guitar player and musician, (Wilson Novitzki), use repetition of action, such as the smashing of various gifts, aggressive contact improv, talking over one-another simultaneously, and direct audience address to encourage the act of acceptance. Meyers reads the blue cards aloud, giving these “things you would like to be rid of” back to the audience members, either by guessing who wrote what, or just random assignment. Novitzki takes a break from his guitar and assists Meyers in this project. Both men show a sense of humor and provide some welcome laughter with this part of the show. During all of this Meyers is wrapped by the other actors in a symbolic clear barrier of saran wrap, saying that the very things we attempt to get rid of are the same things that are always there, so rather than trying to rid ourselves of them, we ought to embrace them. One blue card said, “box of old toys;” Meyers asked if he could have them.

The artists involved in “the real kim harmon performance collective” proudly present habeas corpus as an ever-evolving work in progress. More like a living art exhibit than a play, this theatre piece is sure to get you thinking.

(habeas corpus is performed at Under St. Marks Theater, 94 St. Marks Place btwn 1st Ave and Ave A., on Tues. March 03 at 7:30pm, Wed. March 04 at 6pm, and Sun. March 08 at 2:30pm. Tickets are $13 -- bring an object you want to get rid of and get a $3 discount! Call Smarttix at 212-868-4444 or online at

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