Part séance, part sermon, HOT DUST is a sympathetic and visceral examination of two strains of American religious fervor, both distinguished by charismatic female leaders: 19th Century Spiritualism and the Pentecostalism of the 1920s. HOT DUST compares these two movements through a single character-- Sister, a conflicted leader who uses her gifts of perception and charm to both survive and self-destruct.
"Can you feel my hand?" --the whisper is barely discernible, as is the almost-invisible flower at center stage, whose amorphous shape cannot be defined in the blackness. In this opening and elsewhere, Exploding Moment's HOT DUST asks audiences to suss out the whispered nuances at the stage edge. The play explores two worlds-one based on 19th century Spiritualist mediums, the other inspired by an anti-Suffragist, anti-Darwinist Pentacostal firebrand of the 1920s. Both are manifested in the central character Sister, a showperson who uses her gifts of perception and charm to both survive and self-descruct.
Her story unfolds from a central set piece, a "spirit cabinet" modeled after the 19th century contraption in which mediums hid their props and assistants to thrill sitters with encounters with the underworld. Designed by object theater artist Joe Silovsky and Tony Award- winning costumer Paloma Young, the spectacle of HOT DUST expands with Sister's ambitions and influence. As we move from the world of the progressive, abolitionist Spritiualists to that of 20th century revivalists, we sense the patterns that inform both preacher and follower: these seekers of truth and comfort find their needs at odds with one another, with compromise and hypocrisy the inevitable result; both versions of Sister gain influence and independence by defending an oppressive domestic structure they had artfully escaped. Their stories are told through gestures and whispers, and a clever staging that compels the audience to pay close attention.
Tickets: $18 General, $14 student pricing. Purchase in advance at incubatorarts.org, or call TheaterMania at 212-352- 3101. Performances run tonight, January 25,26,27,29, 31, February 1, 2, 3 Incubator Arts Project inside St. Mark's Church, 131 East 10th Street, at Second Avenue. L to First or Third Avenue; R, W to Broadway/8th Street; 6 to Astor Place; N, Q, 4, 5 to Union Square.
Exploding Moment is a loose confederation of artists working with director Catharine Dill and performer Sharla Meese. We address underexposed facets of contemporary existence with the same materials that provide its tone, rhythm and texture. The work is not only a reflection of daily life, but an examination of our means of perceiving it. Our projects may be made from any media but sometimes include a theatrically utilitarian stage design, video and audio manipulation, and performance techniques that range from cinematic realism to contemporary dance.
Catharine Dill has produced and directed four projects with Exploding Moment, DATE:TIME, WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BREASTS and CAN I HELP YOU? and YE'RE HERE, CUZIN! She has co-produced and/or co-directed five projects with the arts ensemble Red Dive, which she co-founded. Her awards include the Bessie Award for Installation and New Media, the AREA Award (awarded by Chashama and the National Endowment for the Arts), residencies at Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony and Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and grants from Art Matters, the Greenwall Foundation, the Heathcote Foundation, the Curtis W. McGraw Foundation, and a Foundry Theatre Emerging Artists' Award.
Sharla Meese has been a performer/collaborator on Exploding Moment's two most recent projects, YE'RE HERE, CUZIN! and CAN I HELP YOU? Her recent work includes: FOREST MAIDEN for Nina Morrison at HERE as part of the NYFringe, LEAVES OF GRASS at The Cell, SONNETS FOR AN OLD CENTURY at Bank Street Theater, POETICS: A BALLET BRUT for Nature Theater of Oklahoma at The Public Theater as part of the Under the Radar Festival, and A TIMELESS KAIDAN for Ximena Garnica/Leimay at Theater for the New City as part of the NY Butoh Festival. She has worked as an artist in residence for Floris Schönfeld/ KTRE at The Watermill Center and as an intern for The Wooster Group.
By offering a series of production programs that provide space, labor, technical assistance and administrative expertise, Incubator Arts Project supports the presentation of world premiere, contemporary work in the performing arts made by dance, music and theatre artists. Incubator Arts Project has been featured in American Theatre magazine, The New York Times, TIME OUT New York, The Village Voice, and The Brooklyn Rail and won a 2010 Obie grant.