Ashley Peters, 2nd jRS Emerson College  |  15 April 2009

World Drama II

I will be reviewing a performance of a conceptual piece entitled Mother Earth created by Indonesian/Dutch theatre maker Mosterd.  This performance incorporated multi-media, movement, sounds, and lighting to express Mosterd’s interpretation of the world as it exist today after years of living under patriarchal rule.  The piece dealt with the relationship between latitude, longitude. Woman is represented by horizontality because she is connection with the earth, and intuition where  as man is directly related to verticality and man is constantly reaching upwards towards the sky.  His interpretation argues that because woman are more intuitive in feeling out other people, they would make stronger political leaders as they are more in tune with the needs of the people opposed to the intellectual agendas that men bring forth.

The over all structure of the piece consists of first – matriarchy, then progress into patriarchy, and then ends in his idea of a future matriarchy.  The show initially begins in an ancient society where women are the rulers of society.  After the show I spoke with the director and he explained to me that archeologists have dug up artifacts in area’s that evidently indicate that women once were revered as subjects of worship.  Which brings up the controversial question of whether or not God was a woman?

The idea of matriarchy is established on the stage is by the main female dancer looking neutrally into the lense of a video camera, which then projects the image of her face onto the backdrop of the stage.  Then the scene transfers onto a male dancer on his side on the floor who is being videotaped by the female and is writhing his body in an amoeba-organism like way to symbolize mans progression from single called organisms to the homo-erectus of which we are today.  However the female is already vertical and is fully competent in the ways of videography, which introduces the motifs of computers.  Mosterd claims that the way we psychologically use computers is through intuition, and spontaneity, “We just try things to see if they work, we take risks, without worrying about the consequences'” and this is representative of a woman’s intuition.

This piece presents not only the progression of the world under patriarchal rule but what the world would look like had woman been in power.  There were three professional Indonesian dancers (2m, 1f), and three amateur Dutch dancers (3f) who were used to represent the next generation to be in power and since they were female it implies matriarchy.  Many of the movements were based in an ancient form of martial arts whose movements retrain very natural and minimalistic qualities because this was the Eastern style of theatre that these performers had been trained in and so Mosterd had to adapt his Western style to fit theirs.

The dancers were so well trained, and committed in every fiber of their being.  Their dedicating was awe-inspiring and present in their fingers, toes, eyes, smile, and breathing patter.  I would not be surprised if they had been training all of their lives, and when I see the rarities I m so envious but it drives me crazy to think that there are so many American celebrities who posses no skill, work ethic, or talent and yet they are rich, famous, and winning “high acclaimed” awards for their contributions to the entertainment industry.  Performers like Britney Spears are nothing but imaginary fabrications that millions of susceptive Americans succumb to because they don’t know any better, when these performers were the most enviable and human dancers I have ever seen.  The most incredible part was at the curtain call when I stood to applaud and express my deepest gratuity the main male dancer, was beaming with humility when the sweat had been pouring off of his incredibly able body.  He thanked us in return in the most humble manner, bowing proudly, and smiling so that we could see how happy he was for having just practiced his form in front of people.  I had a difficult time focusing on anything else during the performance because of how invested this dancer was.

The actual movements where minimalist, and repetitive which reminded me of the score of Phillip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach. The director created movement structures based around specific actions that were repeated but then within these repetitions the dancers were able to improvise with the natural, inclinations of their bodies.  Mosterd said that he did not want to show off the virtuosity of these dancers but rather he found movements that implied a message.  Towards the end as they were being introduced to more and more forms of over stimulating technology, they were performing the same set of movements over and over again at such an increasingly rapid pace that it was really overwhelming to watch.  It was done to represent the way we function in modern society with constant over stimulating and in the background there were forms of energy on the backdrop like wind turbines, and smoke pouring out from long tubes for coal or chemical factories, then they finished by answering their cell phones.  That marked the end of patriarchy, and the closing scene was a tableau of future matriarchy were all the movements slow down dramatically and they spend an extended period of time walking forwards, arms outstretched.

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