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Capacitor's "Within Outer Spaces"
Alice Arts Center Theater, Oakland, October 13, 2000

by Robert Stephens

Friday the 13th, and in front of a filled Alice Arts Center Theater, which included the Oakland city Mayor (and former California Governor), Jerry Brown, Capacitor presented a wildly diverse production of "Within Outer Spaces." The performance was athletic and energetic. I hesitate to use the word "dance" because that is a relatively small portion of the overall offering -- the company describes themselves as "interdisciplinary movement artists". The show combines aspects of circus acrobatics, juggling, spoken word, slide pictures, prerecorded and live music, and, yes, dance. Trying to put it all into a nutshell description can be very exasperating.

The premise behind the show is the artistic examination of the physical universe. The scope varies considerably throughout the show, starting from a macroscopic look at the creation of the planets to the more intimate view of the creation of life on Earth. The physical plane is ripe with parallels and I feel that "Within Outer Spaces" does some of its best work in juxtaposing these.

One of the goals of Capacitor is to make the performance a less passive experience for the audience. Both as a strength and a weakness, I would say they have succeeded. This was a highly analytical experience for me. I was thinking during the show, and for much of evening afterwards; but thinking was getting in the way of enjoyment. In fact, it took me a couple of hours before I really started to admire the aesthetics of the performance. I spent much of the show comparing the on-stage activity with my knowledge of the particular phenomenon. I thrive on being challenged in that sense, and, therefore, did enjoy the show; but it has a decidedly masculine sense to the appreciation (I understood, I conquered something), as compared to enjoying something for its sheer beauty. Taken from another perspective, this is a show that can be enjoyed on several levels.

Was it perfect? Well, I would have liked to see a bit more synchronization between dancers in some of the segments. But Science, more than most people think, can be imperfect in its details, so perhaps that was the (im-)perfect touch.

 

A Postscript Interview

Robert Stephens: The program describes “Within Outer Spaces” as the first product of the Capacitor Lab. I have seen reviews of two other shows (“Future Species” and “Future Species 2”). Can you describe the differences?

Jodi Lomask: Within Outer Spaces seems like a more cohesive and mature work than Future Species/Future Species2. It was conceived as one full-evening work, rather than a series of pieces threaded together. One benefit of the lab was the luxury of brainstorming and discussing ideas with a group of creative thinkers before the rehearsal process began. Once the rehearsal process began, I was able to get feedback from the astronomers and other lab participants almost immediately. This way of discussing the work openly during the process challenged me to be more deliberate and specific.

RS: I understand that you are primarily focused on Science, Technology and our (as humans) interaction with them, but are there other subjects that you hope to tackle with Capacitor?

JL: I am interested in human instinct and behavior on many levels, but mainly on the level of the subconscious, where we act and make decisions beyond our conscious control. I am sure this interest will bring me to other places, but at present I am completely consumed with outer space and technology's presence in our lives.

RS: Lastly, more from personal curiosity than any real sense of reporting. From the beginning concept to its actual incarnation, how happy are you with this presentation? Are there pieces that exceeded your expectations? And, were there parts that never made it past the initial “what if we were to do this?” phase?

JL: I am very proud of this show. There is a flow and a pace that I believe is captivating.

We are still examining sections of the show for potency, especially those sections that have never been performed before, such as the Meteor Machine which begins the show. It changes dramatically from space to space. The piece has been reworked since we entered the Alice.

We are still exploring our projections, which I feel have been a successful addition in general. We are working with a multi-media artist to further develop this aspect of the show in the future.

 

Please join a discussion of this performance in our forum.

Also read an interview Jodi Lomask, Artistic Director of Capacitor.

Edited by Azlan Ezaddin.


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