In Event of Moon Disaster
In Event of Moon Disaster. Directed by Natalie Greene. Mugwumpin, Z Space and Intersection for the Arts. Z Below, 470 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA, 94110.
Remember when you saw that incredible scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where our prehistoric ape ancestors confront a featureless black monolith with great agitation and bewilderment? I marveled at the cinematic majesty of the moment, but was befuddled at the Kubrick’s intent. I had much the same feeling after experiencing In Event of a Moon Disaster; a gorgeous, often mesmerizing technical marvel that left me scratching my head with its jumbled, unfocused script.
Using a July 1969 memo from William Safire to HR Haldeman written in the event the Apollo 11 astronauts didn’t return from space as inspiration, the collaborators have presented a piece that is totally in line with Mugwumpin’s objective: to expand the artform by questioning the primacy of text and narrative in theatre. Performers use modern dance, mime and intricate hand gestures to communicate emotions. As an immersive theatre piece, the audience is asked to participate and not just sit and listen.
Z Space is proficient at creating these types of immersive projects. Last year’s A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry was a smash success, and SF audiences are thrilled by the productions values of The Speakeasy. Here, the audience is enveloped by a four-sided spectacular projection and light show that rivals a planetarium. There’s some very creative audio-visuals going on including: performers filming themselves and projecting it onto the walls, pre-filmed montages and some stunning scrim work. Kudos to the technical team Ray Oppenheimer (Lighting), Teddy Hulsker (Sound), Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky (Projections) and Dart Andrew Packard (Video Content).
I’m no stranger to performance art, and often it’s just as nice to witness an event as it is to full understanding the creator’s intent. What I gleaned from the script, which moves forward and backward in time, involves our desire to explore the cosmos, gleaning what comprehension we can. There’s some mythical aspects to the piece represented by a female character with a giant moon head, some song and the inactions of two stranded astronauts (a reference to the Safire memo). The cast included: Stephanie DeMott, Erin Mei-Ling Stuart, Isa Musni, Nayeli Rodriguez, Soren Santos and Don Wood.
I enjoyed the technical aspects of this piece greatly. It’s a visual and audio delight. This piece took two years in development and I expected a clear storyline. Perhaps I can’t totally remove myself from narrative and might need to explore more of Mugwumpin’s work, which might be just what the creator’s want.
Performances run through January 28, 2018 zspace.org/moondisaster 415.626.0453