With the audience threatening to overflow the TEK BOX at the Cowles Center, the first week of NW4W 2019 started last night with Works-In-Progress. The festival is a staple in the Minneapolis performance community. If this first week is any indication, the festival remains vibrant and future-looking. This is no surprise, given the verve and care that Red Eye’s seven artistic directors bring to their work.
An acknowledged but perhaps under-appreciated fact is that once a person leaves school, there is often no group or mechanism for soliciting feedback about developing works. Crits undergrid most of the collegiate experience, but often don’t exist in a robust or formalized way once that training is complete. In this way, Week 1 of Red Eye’s 4-week series is to be commended. An honest showing of Works-In-Progress does two important things: 1) it allows the artists to see their work through the fresh eyes of a new audience and 2) it dispels the notion that work springs fully formed from the head of Zeus. Artists are not an island and work can (and probably should) change as a result of real and meaningful exchange with others. Many works in this evening challenge the audience to get out of their comfort-zones, creating a meaningful two-way street of intervention and dialogue.
The evening had a delightful mix of performance that ran the gamut from the slightly theatrical/script-bound, through more classical dance and music, all the way to more art-historical Performance Art (capital P and A). Notable was the technical sophistication of many of these works, which used projections and sound in compelling ways, while also utilizing highly physical, tactical processes like cutting. The evening was tightly choreographed, with just the right amount of time allocated to each piece. While that might seem trivial, I think it speaks to a sophistication and understanding on the part of the Red Eye directors and the artists involved with the evening.
Check out NW4W for the next three weeks. June 6-8 Anna Johnson and Arneshia Williams (both artists who participated in the NW4W 2018) take center stage with full-length works.