KPBS AIRDATE: JANUARY 26, 2001
The year is getting off to a dramatic start. We’ve got a new theater space, and a continuing coalescence of performing arts. Asian American Repertory Theatre has just inaugurated its new home, the Hiroshi McDonald Mori Performing Arts Center, and Malashock Dance resumes its commitment to blurring the lines between art forms by melding movement, music and text.
Just this week, at the fourth annual KPBS Patté Awards for Theater Excellence, I presented a newly created Award — for Dance Theater — to celebrate that art-from fusion. John Malashock, along with Eveoke Dance Theatre’s Gina Angelique, were the first recipients. Malashock’s latest, thoroughly delightful program is entitled “Together in the Fires of Delight.” It’s all about the diversity, intensity and complexity of human relationships, and it’s by far the most upbeat and accessible work of the choreographer to date.
Local favorite actors Rosina Reynolds and Walter Murray effectively speak the well interwoven texts, by writers ranging from John Malashock and his wife Nina, who penned the most powerfully personal pieces, to Dorothy Parker and Harold Pinter, whose words, not surprisingly, were often searing and brutal.
Highlights of the dance part of the evening were the Malashocks’ moving duet to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” Michael Mizerany’s magnificent agility in “The Gypsy’s Wife,” sung by Leonard Cohen; the witty “Beast of Desire,” irresistibly danced by Ali Fischer and Karen Ivy; and a touching piece called “Mountain of Orphans,” which paired Nina Malashock with her young deaf student, Jade Tipton. In all, it’s a very satisfying, intimate evening of dance theater — one that you dare not miss.
Not far away, invoking all their acronyms, AART and MMPAC gave us “FOB” about ABCs. In other words, Asian American Rep celebrated its 5th anniversary by blessing its new 75-seat South Park theater space and ushering in the Chinese new year with a lion dance on the opening night of a reprise production. “FOB” is a youthful, 1978 play by David Henry Hwang, who later gained fame for “M. Butterfly.” F.O.B. or FOB, means Fresh Off the Boat. It’s a derogatory term used by ABCs, or American Born Chinese, to refer to new immigrants who, in their snobby, acculturated opinion, are “clumsy, stupid, greasy and horny.”
The guys have switched roles since their first presentation of the play four years ago, to excellent effect. Andy Lowe is now the smart-alecky, pseudo-hip angeleno, and Robert Dahey, a physically and facially malleable comic actor, is the immigrant greaseball of the title, who turns out to be none other than the ancient warrior god, Guan Gung. Anne Tran is credible, sly and subtle as the female fulcrum between these two competitive males. In the fantasy sequences, she evolves gracefully into Fa Mu Lan, the mythical woman warrior, hell-bent on revenge. Everyone learns a lesson or two — about china, America and the immigrant experience. The slight but magical piece is inventively directed by Andy Lowe and Kim Miller, with imaginative use of slide projections and shadow puppets.
Plenty to celebrate this month: music, dance, theater, life. Who could ask for anything more?
©2001 Patté Productions Inc.