Friday, January 29, 2010
Their choice of a company name offers a hint of the deadpan drollery of their approach to art and to the audience. In a town that whelps new theatre companies as if it were a puppy mill, these young women label themselves the "generic ensemble company."
Generic as in "common" and "absolutely typical" or as in "no longer under patent" or, reaching a bit, as in "an embodiment of an abstract ideal." And generic as in "gender," for their credo states in part, ". . . we strive to promote, foster, and engage performance, writing and ideas of/with people of color, queers, gender queers, women, working class people, immigrants and youth."
There's a bit of swagger in that but no arrogance toward the audience. Unless you count the moments when the two young actresses in their bowler hats and nondescript (generic) costumes peered at me with close-up, polite curiosity from several angles and pronounced themselves puzzled. "It must be a piece of modern art."
This thoughtful and creative re-interpretation of Beckett's Waiting for Godot takes place in a frame house on a dark street in east Austin near the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Webberville Road. The company painted the house number on a banner and hung it in the front yard so we wouldn't miss them completely in the darkness.
The public space was the living/dining room area and part of the kitchen space. Walls, windows, beams and bar were draped with blank, white sheets. As the 10 or so of us gathered, a woman wearing a bowler hat was sitting slumped forward in the middle of the playing space, for all the world like a Bolivian market woman who had forgotten her traditional costume. She re-animated as another, more alert and taller young woman, also in a bowler hat, joined her. We learned quickly that the shorter of the two was "Gohgoh"; the more animated was "DeeDee." The names directly mirror the nicknames given by Beckett to their prototypes Estragon and Vladimir.
Read more and view images at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .