October 8, 2013

We All, September 18

Brian Dorn has been promoting this event at a series of open mics recently, reciting the title poem, even juggling colorful balls as he says the poem. Tonight I got the see the full production at The Arts Center on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Brian has become a fixture at most open mics with his characteristically rhymed pieces; his themes include political & love poems, philosophical musings, even poems on religious & spiritual topics, that he recites in his own unique style. The hour & a half production of We All used live dancers, acrobats, & balancers performing to recordings of Brian reading his poems. The text was projected on a screen behind the performers, & sometimes included a video of prior performances. Some of dancers used lighted hula-hoops in lieu of real fire.

The performers, variously associated with Firekeeper Productions, the dance troupe Fire Magick & the band The Love Sprockets, included Jozette Gordon, Jahnavi Newsom, Megan Gendell, Seth Hill, Radha Newson, Izabella Dean, & Addison Rice. The performances were riveting, often spell-binding, while not distracting from the text. It was like a night at a poetry circus, without the elephants & tigers.

Brian's poems works well in open mics & featured readings, but in a long show such as this his readings were numbing. His poems are mostly in a regular rhyming pattern, which he delivers in a lightly modulated monotone. This works well in short doses, in fact it could be called his "signature style".  But in this setting the incessant repetition of style & tone & rhyme became a distraction from the more scintillating performers on stage. His material speaks to real issues & deserve to be heard, but in such a long production needs greater variety in performance, not just distracting visuals.

There certainly is something to be said for a Ringler Brothers production-style poetry reading, especially where the wild animals & the clowns are the poets themselves.

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