Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Éxodo—Milagro—SE Portland

Time of Reckoning

This World Premiere, movement-oriented event is inspired by the “Egyptian Book of the Dead” and directed by Tracy Cameron Francis and Roy Antonio Arauz.  It is playing at their space, 525 SE Stark St. (limit free street parking), through November 12th.  For more information, go to their site at www.milagro.org or call 503-236-7253.

“Home is where the heart is,” it is said (and within this play, that has an eerie double meaning).  We all seek a refuge, a place to call home, somewhere we are safe.  Today we have many escaping from their homelands because of war, a drug culture and/or terrorists, et. al., seeking their “forever” spot to call Home.  Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Mexico, Central and South America, et. al., all looking for a place of solace.   Even the U. S. was founded by individuals seeking a better life.  Possibly, we are all still seeking that proverbial, “Garden of Eden,” where wonders will be many and opportunities endless.

My sense is that this production had some of those elements influencing them.  And, in this case, even the dead need their refuge.  A large part of existing, in whatever form, is that people not forget you.  We may be, as the Bard said, “such stuff that dreams are made on…” but we still need a base of operation, whether the sky or the earth, or another dimension altogether, to flourish.  This story is told mainly through dance and movement on an essentially bare stage with minimal dialogue.  It is a work of Art, a painting, a tabloid that moves, undulates, weaves into your conscious and sub-conscious.  And so the work must be experienced visually, through one’s senses, to fully absorb the impact.

The ensemble consists of Patricia Alvitez, Robi Arce, Kushi Beauchamp, Jean-Luc Boucherot, Tonea Lolin and Samson Syharath.  They slide in and out through the worlds of the living and the dead, all seeking that elusive…”Home.”  Curiously, the night before I saw a rock musical based on a Greek tragedy, “Jasper in Deadland,” by OCT’s Young Professionals Co. (excellent production, too), in which a young man visits Hades in order to find his true love and take her back to the living.  Many of the elements in that story ring true in this one, too, crossing water as part of the journey, losing one’s heart, tying memories to one’s existence, etc. 

And not only influences of Mexican culture are evident but, obviously, Egyptian, Japanese, Greek (as mentioned) and even, Native American.  We have our own Halloween, of course, but it pales in comparison to older cultures that have, in my opinion, surpassed us as to discovering the origins of their Past and the respect due to it.  Many white American egos seem to concentrate on the practical, the material and the here and now.  Others do not stand still, but embrace the Past as part of who they were, and then, acknowledging it as still within them, they evolve forward as part of a natural progression.

As mentioned, this is not something that can be described in words but must be felt, as it is important to glean for oneself the meaning.  The actors all seemed very vested in this project and the directors have done a noble and daring job of presenting an abstract event to a seemingly practical public.  The scenic design (Emily Wilken), original music/sound (Ryan Francis), costumes (Carrie Anne Huneycutt), props (Sarah Andrews), lighting (design—Kim Williams, operator, Michael Cavazos) all added to the success of this production, too.

I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.