Chibeau

Edmond Chibeau looks at performance and theatre from the avant-garde communication perspective

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Location: Mansfield, Connecticut, United States

Friday, May 06, 2011

ECHOS: VOICES FROM THE CHURCH FARM


Written and Directed by J.J. Cobb
6 & 7 May 2011
Joe Zaring Center for the Performing Arts
at The Church Farm, Ashford CT
review: Edmond Chibeau

This site specific performance piece brings to light the history and significance of the Church family and their farm in the ‘Quiet Corner” of Connecticut. The work is performed as a “promenade” in which the audience moves from one playing area to another. The individual scenes are “looped” so that the actors do a scene and then take a very short break and then do it again. In this way the audience can stroll around the property and see the scenes in any order.

The culmination of the piece is a Performance Art manifestation in which the performers and audience thread ropes and strings across a series of white posts that have been stuck in the ground as a way of, “joining your memories with ours.”

Cobb’s skill as a director and her sensitivity to the nuances of human interaction make this, not just a documentary history of Americana, but a meditation on the joys and tribulations that echo across the generations on a particular New England family farm. Much like content on the internet, this play is “distributed” among nodes, of the front lawn, the back porch, the pond, and the barn. The scenes take place at various times between 1872 and 1948, with a Performance Art coda in the infinite present.

Each scene is a multiplier of the scenes taking place around it. The scenes are not a sequence but a distribution. They interact in a variable calculus that reveals a different experience for each viewer. Although it is sometimes funny, the play is neither clever nor facile. It is a compassionate look at key frames in the human history of a particular New England place.

J. J. Cobb uses primary source documentation and draws on the work of historian, Dr. Barbara Tucker and archivist, Tara Hurt, as well as many other academic and theatrical resources, to create a human document that speaks through time and place.

The play is produced by the Performing Arts Department, with the assistance of many institutions and individuals including the Institutional Advancement department of Eastern Connecticut State University.

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