ONEWORD - an extended poetree
nytheatre.com review by Sara Thigpen
August 10, 2008
"We can find life in anything," says Gail Langstroth in her one-woman journey, ONEWORD – an extended poetree. This personal collection of stories, poetry, and movement seeks to illustrate this quest and frankly, what Langstroth brings to life during the festival is a childlike, whimsical world.
Our charming speaker, both a grounded and airy figure, has a storytelling style much like her appearance. This chronicle spans her well-traveled and well-studied years, in addition to a few early sparks of memory from her pre-art childhood in Montana. 17 poems, more than half as many movement pieces, detailed accounts of her creative pursuits, and one beautiful chair fashion the story of the ONEWORD (which I will not reveal, you must see the show to learn its meaning).
These tangentially sequenced stories illustrate the artist's singular interests. One moment she is a young girl with a kite, the next, a dump truck or an Armenian nut telling tales from Russia who then went to play guitar or study poetry or enter the Priest Seminary. But the most fascinating tale of this performer is of her passion for Eurythmy, the backbone of this performance piece. And her devotion is documented. Langstroth received her diploma from Else Klink-Das Eurythmeum, Stuttgart, Germany in 1976, and then spent the next eight years performing, lecturing and teaching with their ensemble. She is in fact so passionate about this artform, it seems to speak to her in such a way that I believe it has unlocked many mysteries of life to her; but, to me, they are mostly, still a secret.
I find the theory of Eurythmy more interesting than the performance of it. At the concept's introduction, she shows the audience how her name looks, performed. To Gail, who has always hated her name, there is a new-found beauty. Inelegantly, my initial reaction to this performance was one that many have to modern art: "Oh, I could do that." Then I began to wonder, what am I missing? Is this an artform to be performed, but not witnessed? Or, because I am not a dancer, is the subtlety of the movement lost on me? Then something wonderful happens. Gail dons a gauzy rectangle of fabric and suddenly she looks to be moved by the wind, as if the vibrations of sound cause her to sway and tilt gracefully, and suddenly I am let in on a little part of the secret.
The notes say this production, the U.S. premiere, is streamlined from its first incarnation in Europe. This version boasts fewer props and more poetry and I believe that to be an excellent choice between her and the director, Bethany Caputo. The poetry is most engaging. The delivery is light and fluid as are the transitions between sections. Michael Lounsbery's evocative lighting enhances the developing composition as the subtle shifts in light, voice, and movement all become more pronounced, as the show softly builds toward its final moment, another transition. And because this show draws life from a source that continues to seek new experience, I wouldn't be surprised if ONEWORD finds more life later on.