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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 1, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 22
Soikowski shows her full 'capacity' in new performance piece
Arts & Entertainment
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Soikowski shows her full 'capacity' in new performance piece

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

at capacity SOIKOWSKI RESEARCH / PERFORMANCE
(at Melrose Market Studios)
Through June 15


Rhonda J. Soikowski is a generative facilitator. This oblique title essentially means she facilitates theatrically expressive performances that are generated by whomever she is working with. (She is also Lesbian.) Her latest production, entitled at capacity, uses a newly augmented warehouse-looking space at Melrose Market (1532 Minor St.).

at capacity is not a linear show. In fact, Soikowski begins by encouraging the audience to get up and move around the long rectangular space if necessary to see something closer, or if it's hard to hear, or just to get a different perspective on what is going on.

Performance art is not an easily categorized niche of theater, and the label might scare off those who have endured really bad theatrical experiences with that term slapped onto them. But Soikowski is one artist who hones her own work and her work with others to a fine sheen of professional presentation. (You might have seen her as the title character in last year's production of The Beebo Brinker Chronicles.)

at capacity refers to war, relationships in various kinds of emotional turmoil, and family difficulties. At some point it begins to relate to Greek mythology as well.

Soikowski described how the group of artists responsible for this work (Brenda Arellano, Kate Huisentruit, Gina Malvestuto-Fitzgerald, Pilar O'Connell, Tim Smith-Stewart, Sydney Tucker, and herself) generated what you see on stage.

'We began with Greek lore. Our first assignment was to read up as much Greek lore as possible. Even new adaptations of the old stories. Find two or three characters who were too difficult emotionally for us to access. I chose some male roles that were hard to justify. It's easy to take the side of the woman in, say, Jason and Medea - the broken, ignored woman and the drastic things she ends up doing. It's easier for me to justify that than the male role.

'Then we'd work on what was too hard to justify. We'd talk about it. Gina, for instance, has two children and thought it was too hard to understand Clytemnestra, who loses her child, treats the other one poorly, and then murders her husband.

'Then we spent some time delving into what it was about ourselves and that [difficult] character that meshed, and then built new stories out of that, and took the literal stories out of it, so we weren't telling the exact Greek myth.'

The movement of the performance is a series of pieces seamed together, similar to dance pieces. As Soikowski explained, 'Instead of writing scenes, we came up with theatrical moments. Someone would say, 'I had this idea that they have in common: holding on to something that isn't right for them.' And then we would put that after a different moment that seemed to go together with it.'

The artists brought in writer/choreogrpher Alianna Jaqua as an associate once they felt the work had a seriously congruent structure, and she became the outside eye, much like a director. Soikowski said that with Jaqua's help, 'We tried to tighten [it] as much as possible and commit to it.'

Fundamentally, that is what you will experience here: full commitment. Your interpretation may be uniquely your own, but you'll likely agree that at capacity is truly professional theater. For more information, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/248356 or call 800-838-3006.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com.

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