You Will Make A Difference
nytheatre.com review by Joan Kane
October 20, 2012
AliveWire Theatrics presents You Will Make a Difference, a collaboratively devised performance piece conceived and directed by Jeremy Goren. It is presented in a collage of styles, a theatrical stew from sources as diverse as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, a medieval pageant play, the 1994 teen television drama My So-Called Life and the ensemble’s own stories which are used to explore topics such as careers, love, babies and success. In an Alice-in-Wonderland-follow-the-White-Rabbit ritual, the audience follows the ensemble to several locations in the West Park Presbyterian Church. One is not expected to sit quietly, program in hand listening to a story by witnessing actors portray a series of events in the lives of their characters. Instead we are offered a variety of different styles of theatre including movement based and text based, as well as Spolin inspired theatre games. Set Designer Sandy Yaklin enhances the venerable 120+ year old church with various details in each location that included a classic proscenium with a tree lined backdrop, a roomy suburban kitchen, and a damp, musty basement. The sounds of creaky stairs, classic music, and crunching noises are wired in to enhance each environment making it an immersive experience.
The ensemble included Stephanie Eiss, Tara Elliott, Jeff Kitrosser, Nicki Kontolefa, Shelley Molad, Laura Riveros, Derek Spaldo, and Martha Frances Williams. They moved with ease and confidence, experimenting together as a cohesive unit and at times as individuals with dynamic, passionate personalities.
At the end of the performance I attended the audience was brought to a community room where the company and audience members sat together at beautifully set tables to share a delicious meal prepared by the artistian chef Anne Apparu.
The audience is as much a writer/creator in this experience as the artists who have worked for more than six months to create this piece. When we were brought to the basement and asked to stand, listening to a crunching sound and watching movement of bodies under a shadowy light, I imagined I was on a beach in the moonlight walking on seashells that crunched under my feet. Later, at the communal dinner, I had a discussion with a woman who imagined the same experience as a prison with rats gnawing the rafters. As in a museum, each person brings their own experiences and imagination to the piece of art, finding meaning that is relevant to their needs.
I thoroughly enjoyed this unconventional, refreshing theatrical experience. You Will Make a Difference is an art happening in which one enters into a brave, passionate, stimulating world that forces the viewer to contemplate who they are in relation to others.