To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. In a quartet of thematically related scenes at BACA Downtown in Brooklyn , the author demonstrates a historical perspective and a theatrical versatility. The title of the piece is entirely applicable. In this study of the black experience from slavery to the present, the changes are almost invisible - like geological shifts in the earth. Insinuating himself into their habitat, he spies on them with the help of a camera hidden inside a mechanical mock-up of a giant cockroach.
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Gifted with a startling and offbeat writing style and a willingness to confront difficult political issues, Parks is a refreshing and innovative writer. But her work is also ponderous, static, and overly self-conscious, seemingly designed to be interpreted rather than watched.
Parks does not develop characters, she creates voices--cryptic figures who both suggest and challenge archetypal images. She does not write dialogue, she strings together words in complicated cycles to drive home her philosophical points. The title and subtitle, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom: African-American history in the shadow of the photographic image, signals both what is right and what is wrong with this interlinked series of four short plays.
Each of the four plays is introduced with a selection of photographs projected on screens at the back of the stage. A photograph of a giddily smiling entertainer in clown makeup is followed by a play that explores the pain behind that smile.
A photograph of a proud, brave soldier is followed by a play that deconstructs the myth of military heroism. The first work, "Snails," takes place in a roach-infested apartment in which an electronic-surveillance expert interested in observing African American culture has disguised a camera as a giant bug.
The play addresses the difficulties three African American women have in conforming to white expectations for proper grammar and proper behavior.
The extraction of teeth recalls the African homeland from which slaves were extracted and their ancestry or "extraction. It even strives to seem more complex than it actually is. Her repetitious style gives the play a poetic rhythm, but also belabors obvious points. Chicago Actors Ensemble is to be commended, however, for its ambition in continuing to stage the work of this promising, if somewhat frustrating, playwright.
The slides by Tony Martin belong in a museum and are brilliantly synchronized to create the illusion of movement. Director David K.
Smith uses his five gifted actors to paint eerie and captivating images that are as well constructed as the photographs themselves. A scene in which an overseer lords over two rowers in a slave ship as a woman in the distance frantically waves at them to return is especially memorable. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Are you in?
Review/Theater; Identity Loss in 'Imperceptible Mutabilities'
Shelves: drama I have no idea how much my opinion of this early Parks play would change upon seeing a good production but it seems likely it would change dramatically as I had a hard time visualizing the action and had to recite the loopy, absurdist dialogue in my head to make sense of it. The cockroach banter in the first scene tantalized; the metaphysical convos among the seers in scene two delighted. How do you I have no idea how much my opinion of this early Parks play would change upon seeing a good production but it seems likely it would change dramatically as I had a hard time visualizing the action and had to recite the loopy, absurdist dialogue in my head to make sense of it. I wish I knew.
Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom