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The Kitchen

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Flash Dispatch, 8-27: You Can Build it, But What if they Don't Come?
Searching for Einstein on a P.S. 122 Field Trip to Copenhagen

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2001 Maura Nguyen Donohue

COPENHAGEN -- This Nordic city becomes a very sweet town on Saturdays, full of street markets, farmers' markets and pride-full Mermaid parades. Okay only one pride march a year for the home of "The Little Mermaid" 's author. But sunny Saturdays aside, there's still something rotten in the state of Denmark. It's not the all-night 'hot dog' stands or the pastries. Nor is it the freestyle hashish haven/city within the city of Christiana. Nor the city bikes, Tivoli Gardens or the Royal Palace. What is rotten is that in a city plastered with Einstein's quote about being able to judge a country not by the nature of its army but of its art, this year's Copenhagen International Theater (KIT) Festival suffered substandard audience turn out. Granted, a fair audience did turn out for a dreadfully, stuffy, over-acted production of "Hamlet." They even braved the cold and the rain to witness a work performed in its actual historical setting. They were not however, coming in droves to any of the other venues. Which is a pity considering that I, as part of a P.S. 122 Field Trip, along with Dancenoise, Mike Albo, Will Power and Jamie Schneider where getting a pretty serious freak on at the delightfully enormous Kanonhallen.

Anyway, so I'm dropping any journalistic premise of objectivity to wax appreciative about the cast of characters I shared the stage with as part of "NYC Uncovered" for three nights last week. And to say, I left Hamlet at his Krongborg Castle in Elsinore at intermission, never made it into Kanonhallen's second space to see the Erotic Cabaret Verbotin that followed our Friday night show, fell asleep at Dansescenen as Spanish-born Cesc Gelabert danced a solo by German choreographer Gerhard Bohner and subsequently never made it to Cafe Teatret to see the stunning Sarah Jones perform her hip-hop influenced performance sketches, "Surface Transit." I did, however, fully appreciate Copenhagen's fine performance venues. Note to all American venues: please add real cafe/bars in your lobbies.

I would have enjoyed seeing some of the 20+ other offerings from KIT's 6th Sommerscene, which this year was focused on solo performances including French tightrope walker Didier Pasquette opening the festival by walking the high wire from Rosenborg Drill Ground to the highest tower of Rosenborg Castle; the last attempt had been 175 years ago and had ended fatally. Canadian Marie Chouinard presented a series of solos from 1978-1998, and Indian dancer Maya Krishna Rao, from India, performed an interpretation of Brecht's short story "The Job."

Anyway back to us band of noisy and nasty New Yorkers. Hosts Dancenoise, a.k.a. Mike Iverson and Anne Iobst, a.k.a. Nurse Vendetta K. Starr (aka Asparagus) and The Naked Lady welcomed the audiences with outrageous ribaldry in the form of songs like, "I'm a Cow Now," "Fuck Me Raw," and "Jesus Freaks." Will Power presented fresh, witty and sincere bits of theater, employing a hip-hop sensibility and word play to share tales about a beloved grandma and roaches. He sets a scene in a barbershop both physically and sonically when he shifts between four characters -- an aged reverend, a barber, a young boy and his super-sized date -- with ease and enjoyable craftsmanship. Power is a powerhouse performer, pun intended, spitting fierce rhyme and continuous energy surges.

Mike Albo brought us all along on a date with his inner boyfriend. Albo is a warm, engaging performer who can also rip into a serious Brittany Spears-styled chair dance, complete with rip-away pants. His air blowjob, given by the inner boyfriend to himself, is a hilarious riff full of exquisite comedic timing. Jamie Schneider is a fucking force of nature. And I don't throw the expletive in without reason. She is a full frontal assault of assertive sexuality. The thrill of watching her onstage is like watching a wild animal. You never know what might happen or what you might get. There is a real edge to her performance, which always feels like it just might self-implode. But it doesn't. It's just raw, scary, titillating and even charming. She manages to both affront and demand the audience's gaze with such insistence that I find myself riveted.

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