THE ROAD AWAITS US
ANNIE-B PARSON / BIG DANCE THEATER
January 2017 Brooklyn NY: a confusing time to be thinking about what to make for a commission for a new work in London with a cast of elders. Walking around this new world, the dawn of the age of the “orange clown”—the word “absurd” wouldn’t leave my mind. With each new disruption of our order, each middle of the night tweet on our foreign policy, each gaffe on the world’s stage, it cropped up. Absurd. So: Ionesco—must look at Ionesco. I go to my bookshelf. How does it read through the lens of now?
Ionesco, a student of English, and an avowed theater-hater, wrote the text The Bald Soprano by copying directly from his English primer. This “anti-play” (his term) is anti-language as expressive, romantic, motivating, anti-thinking, anti-writing, anti, anti, anti. In the context of today, this play felt good, even righteous.
I edited the play to the bone and adapted it for the stage, ending not as Ionesco had ended it (by returning to the beginning), but instead in an elegiac tone with text from The Cherry Orchard. Because what feels the most different from where he was writing 70 years ago is this: now the world is unwelcoming; now the world is in disorder; the world is scared; the world is sad.
Nine elder dancers and performers hold in their bodies an archive of precious repertory. These performers begin by crossing the stage in a line, setting props for the choreography that will ensue, and end by playing a gin game in the back room of the theater.