An incomplete record of Liminal's many smaller performance events…
2004 Richard Foreman Festival at Performance Works Northwest
Liminal’s Amanda Boekelheide and Bryan Markovitz participated for a second year in a row in PWNW’s Annual Richard Foreman Festival and Benefit. Each year, PWNW Director Linda Austin invites a selection of local artists to construct short performances that utilize random selections of text drawn from the avant-garde director’s notebooks, which are published by Mr. Foreman on the Internet for royalty-free use.
In 2004, Liminal created a short performance piece that repeated a set of actions, recorded spoken sound, and video of the assigned text. Each time the elements were repeated, they were “eroded,” or rendered less complete, until little of the original meaning of the action or words remained. Action was reduced to it’s most basic gestures. Speech was reduced by reversing the hierarchy of sounds in common speech. Visual words were deteriorated through the elimination of letters and words.
The Oregonian feature on August 20, 2004, had this to say about our contribution to the event: “Some actors start working on their ideas long before the benefit, ideas that can be plugged in to any script. One of these is Bryan Markovitz of Liminal Performance Group. The best thing about it is that some very smart artists who make messy, beautiful and provocative work will be transmitting ideas to one another,’ said Markovitz, who, with actor Amanda Boekelheide, is taking the concept of erosion and expanding it within Foreman’s material.
Boekelheide elaborates: ‘We’re interested in the erosion of relationships, the erosion of language, erosion of sound over time, what happens to a few sentences when they’ve been repeated over and over for a lifetime.’
‘We’re hoping that each audience member walks away with a different sense of the performance,’ she said, ‘that each person will be captured by a separate element—a sound, a gesture, the way a word frays over time.’”
Bikes, Bands and Bacchanalia: An Evening with the Sang Froid Riding Club
On November 6, 2003, Liminal Performance Group and the Sang-Froid Riding Club celebrated the close of their fall seasons with a unique event that brought together some of Portland’s finest motorcycle enthusiasts, experimental theatre artists and indie pop bands. The event featured live music from Bronwyn and the Minor Thirds, a special lecture/presetation on the workings of motorcycle engines, motorcycle rides around downtown, and a dramatic performance by Sang-Froid Riding Club Members of a heartbreaking scene from the wildly popular 1986 film Top Gun.
The Exception and the Rule
In late 2003, Liminal Director Bryan Markovitz participated in Lightbox Studio’s unique three-director production of Bertolt Brecht’s short play. Audiences to this performance experienced three original interpretations of the text in one evening. A classic tale of justice and injustice, The Exception and the Rule revolves around a would-be oil merchant racing through the desert with his carrier and guide. The merchant, driven by self-righteousness and the pursuit of a new oil-dependent society, descends into madness, his own fears and distrusts fueling an absurd paranoia about his crew and competition.
Lightbox Studio engaged three directors to examine The Exception and the Rule from three perspectives. Markovitz directed the most conceptual version of the play and was principally interested in re-constructing physical actions from director Ian Greenfield’s naturalistic direction of the text. “I deliberately removed Brecht’s language and gave Ian’s actors a simple rule that was projected on a wall behind them during the performance,” Markovitz said. “My goal was mostly to experiment with creating a physical composition out of the play based on an elegant and simple rule.” More on this production is available at http://www.lightboxstudio.org/exception.
2003 Richard Foreman Festival at Performance Works Northwest
Liminal’s contribution to Performance Works Northwest’s first Richard Foreman Festival was an experiment to see how action could be broken down into any number of combinations and executed according to a basic set of rules. We started with the assigned Foreman text and extracted only the phrases immediately following the words “Roly Poly”. This generated 117 single lines. Performers Amanda Boekelheide and Bryan Markovitz then created and photographed still physical images for each line. During the performance, the images were projected in two slideshows behind the performers. The performers repeated their tableau images on a grid of nine 3 foot squares, while applying dynamic combinations of weight and speed to their gestures according to a set of rules corresponding to the grid.
Tableaux Vivants (2000-2002)
The Tableau Vivant originated as a popular form of entertainment at the turn of the nineteenth century. It was a combination of visual reference and theater art intended to create a three dimensional, living version of a painted work. Actors were hired to pose in costume and remain in position in order to create the illusion of an actual painting, typically chosen by their employer. The patrons were often wealthy and the venues were often their parlors; in this period tableaux vivant was merely a distraction for the rich. Over time, however, tableaux vivant found its way out of the parlor and into the repertoire of theater technique. Today we can see its legacy in everything from street performance (Portland’s own Silver Man in Saturday Market may be taken as one example) to mainstream theater (Sunday in the Park With George almost necessarily contains at least one true tableaux vivant).
Over a two-year period, Liminal created and performed a series of Tableaux Vivants, or “living picture” installations for special events and happenings around Portland. Liminal expanded its interpretation of this genre of performance by breaking long intervals of posed stasis with vignettes of highly charged movement and physical action. Liminal’s exploration of still tableaux eventually influenced the ensemble’s main productions. This is especially true of the company’s production of The Seven Deadly Sins, where Director Bryan Markovitz worked with actors to create detailed tableaux imagery for each of the seven episodes.
While relatively short lived, Liminal performed Tableaux Vivants for an unusual array of events, including a holiday party for KATU-TV (we’re not sure why we ever agreed to that silver body paint), PICA’s final Dada Ball, at Liminal’s gallery (the Metropolitan Art Studio) and at private house parties and fundraisers.
The Evening at OHM
In August 1999, Liminal installed its production of The Evening with the Photograph at the popular Portland nightclub OHM. Liminal performed for 127 people over three nights.
H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
On October 15, 1999, Liminal presented a thirty-minute performance piece created for audiences of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. The performance took place at Portland’s Jasmine Tree Lounge and was an odd blend of Liminal’s contemporary performance styles and the haunted imagery of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror-induced fiction. It was a real treat for all the die-hard Lovecraft fans to see his work dramatized in live performance.