Sunday, October 11, 2009

Horse Head Theatre

Horse Head Theatre, in Houston, is off to a very strong start with its inaugural production, Adam Rapp's RED LIGHT WINTER.  The play is tissue thin, but Horse Head uses it as a vehicle for exploring its own aesthetics, and the performers are terrific.  Unfortunately, I don't know who the performers are, because Horse Head doesn't list them in the program (nor do they take curtain calls).  I'm not entirely in sympathy with Horse Head's mission, which is to make "new" theater--new as in never been done before--something that sounds silly to me.  HOWEVER, judging from the inaugural production, this (impossible?) ideal is inspiring Horse Head to explore possibilities in a genuinely creative, entertaining, even exhilarating way.  If it's not entirely "new," it's only because I have a pedant's idea of what "new" means, and I should not be listened to, in this case.  I gave Kevin Holden some crap when I first read his mission statement.  But, now I doff my cap, bend a knee, and say, "well done."

I'm also happy to see Anthony Contello looking proud of this new baby:  the man deserves this chance to flex creative muscles that his extremely demanding job as Technical Director at the UH School of Theatre & Dance does not always provide him.  Well done, and congratulations, Anthony.


JAC said...

Can you add a sentence or two for those of us who can't be there -- to suggest what its particular aesthetic is, and how that was manifested in this production? Thanks.

David Millstone said...

I would say they are attempting to be participatory, environmental, experimental, 'egalitarian' (whatever that might mean), and generally 'not mainstream' (whatever that might mean.) They seem frustrated by the standard kind of stagings they know, e.g., proscenium, black box. My hunch is they'll move toward some Peter Brook's-like 'happenings' or Growtowski-like things, but maybe not. I don't know how well versed they are in the experimental and avant guarde theater of the last century. I don't know if that matters one whit.