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Review: Source Festival 2017: ‘Through the Wall’: Artistic Blind Date

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A Source Festival Artistic Blind Date brings together three area artists of different disciplines for an adventure in performance art. In five months they need to create and perform a performance that speaks to the theme of the festival.

Mark Platenberg, Meredith Barnes, and Chelsea Thaler. Photo by Teresa Wood Photography

Through the Wall, created and performed by Meredith Barnes, Mark Platenberg, and Chelsea Thaler, opened this last Sunday to a small full-house.

Their performance combined the grief of dealing with a cancer patient, the pain of a family torn asunder by an interracial marriage, and the struggle of what to do with a wounded doe that is alive, but dying on a roadside.

Combining the skills of a choreographer, a musician, and a director-actor, this ménage à trois of dating artists created a conceptually interesting piece that piqued the interests of their audience.

Particularly impressive was the music created by Mark Platenberg, but that is because Mr. Platenberg could both compose and execute the music, which is the discipline of his expertise.

The choreography by Ms. Barnes had several interesting elements, most notably movement with a door frame, but the absence of trained dancers was noticeable (beyond Ms. Barnes herself, who is clearly a dancer).

Ms. Thaler worked on the text of the performance–a fusion of three stories (one by each of the creators) that addressed the idea of a covert catalyst. The fusion provided a provocative opening to the show, somewhat diminished later when some shadow dancing split the focus.

To be sure, Through the Wall delivers conceptually what Source hopes to accomplish with its Blind Date series: a true multidisciplinary collaboration.

I just wish that Source would not put its Daters in the uncomfortable position of performing before a live audience in artistic disciplines outside their chosen areas of expertise.

For, as the music of Through the Wall clearly reveals, when these young artists can collaborate and perform within their fields, good things happen in the interactions.

Running Time: 35 minutes (performance and discussion), with no intermission.

Through the Wall plays through July 2, 2017, at The Source Festival performing at Source – 1835 14th Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

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