For high ambition, deep intelligence and a spectacular sense of dance-theater metaphor, Rosanna Gamson’s “Again Not Again” sets an imposing standard for companies working in local studio spaces.
Within an hour on Friday, using strips of red tape to divide the stage floor at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) into isolated zones, this recently relocated New York artist created a continent-in-miniature, with distinctive cultural groups enacting complex social rituals within their assigned territories.
Gamson used stage props to define each group, so let’s name them accordingly. The Bread People, for instance, tote large, phallic loaves and spend a lot of time singing around a table. In contrast, the Suitcase People are born nomads, using their belongings to construct temporary walls and platforms. The Shoe Couple is on some kind of quest--one that ends with a border-crossing to acquire a pair of glittering ruby pumps.
All the residents of Gamson’s crowded continent have stories to tell--including love stories. Just as our lives are governed by the clock, theirs are ruled by the strobe-flashes periodically set off by a nearby timekeeper signaling the end of an action or episode. Moreover, besides their stories, we keep hearing the endings of classic fairy tales, many of them shockingly cruel.
“Again Not Again” finishes before any interaction takes place between the groups, but we already know the ending to the story: A program note refers to the siege of Sarajevo and we can imagine the horrors of ethnic cleansing and other atrocities just ahead. What Gamson conjures up is an action-painting of the landscape before cataclysm, with original music by Jonathan Alger and the skills of a hard working, 18-member company helping make her concept into vibrant postmodern movement theater. No further performances are scheduled.