Five plays, four playwrights, four directors and five actors explore the local underground art scene (graffiti art, tagging, rap), the creative process, and the art establishment in Circle Circle dot dot’s “Street. Art. Prophets.”
The show plays through Dec. 15 at the 10th Avenue Theatre.
Circle Circle dot dot (the name derives from the children’s rhyme) specializes in “collaborative, community-based theater,” each show original and based on personal experience or interviews with San Diego residents.
For this outing, four short plays cast variously with five of the company’s creative lights are directed by Shaun Tuazon, Adam Parker, Melissa Coleman-Reed and Katherine Harroff.
Artists create because they can’t stand not to, Delia Knight seems to say in “Glow,” directed by Shaun Tuazon.
Soraya Rowley plays the title character, who sees a blank wall and says “I can see her already, trapped in the wall.”
When asked in school, “What are you good at?” the only answer she could come up with was, “Mixing color and getting dirty.”
Rowley does a nice job of bringing Glow to life in a play that needs more focus to really speak to the audience. (Telling us about marriage and a child who apparently died is not only off-topic but takes us nowhere.)
Still, I came away with a feel for Glow’s creative process and, perhaps more importantly, the need to create.
“FAIM & grunt”
Melissa Coleman-Reed wrote and directed “FAIM & grunt,” which seems to be about escape, exploration and travel.
Two kids (played by Sophia Ethridge and Justin Warren Martin) end up in a tunnel under the 15 freeway and dream about foreign travel, or at least hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
The meaning of the title escapes me.
Adam Parker directs “Officer Jay,” who walks the tagger beat in Katherine Harroff’s piece. Jay (Patrick Kelly) catches tagger Chris (Brian Burke), spray-painting “TUPAC” on a city wall.
After a tense exchange between the misfit and the cop, the boy learns that people do care about him, despite his feeling of alienation.
Harroff (the guiding light behind C2d2) also wrote and directs the best piece, a satire on the art establishment called “An Opening.”
At the Liberation Art Gallery, we drop in on the dance of hanging an exhibit of clearly undistinguished art. When artist Jacob (Justin Warren Martin) brings his piece in, it’s met with a dismissive, “I’m sorry, we’re looking for a more refined aesthetic for Liberation Art Gallery” by the gallery owner (Soraya Rowley).
At Vandernaugh Marketing Research and Analyst Firm, art is marketed like Coke and conformity is desired, indicated by an amusing lockstepped dance choreographed by Blythe Barton.
And at Innovation Downtown Art Receptacle, performance artist (a leotarded guy in a deer mask) runs across the stage, pursued by a “hunter.”
There’s a romance thread running through this piece, giving rise to the best line: “Are you the ghost of failed art shows?”
“Big Block Letters”
In Wind Del Woods’ “Big Block Letters,” spray-paint taggers and a rapper (Sophia Ethridge, mumbling indecipherably) amuse themselves with their own apple crate percussion band. Of course, with that much noise they get caught.
Adam Parker directs this vestigial scene whose point was not clear to me.
All these pieces seem more vignettes or writing exercises than finished works; all need considerable work.
Still, Circle Circle dot dot is to be commended for its intent: it is the only local company focusing on and drawing from the community as its inspiration. Sometimes they come up winners (“Deconstruction of a Drag Queen” comes to mind); sometimes not so much so.
“Street. Art. Prophets.” plays through Dec. 18 at the 10th Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Avenue, downtown.
Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 4 pm.
For tickets, visit HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.