Source Festival: ‘Fox Cried’ (Artistic Blind Date) by Lauren Katz

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS
What do you get when you combine the clever minds of a visual artist, a traditional actor and playwright, and a musician? Well you get an artistic blind date of course, but not necessarily the traditional definition of “date” that most might expect. Instead of meeting for a romantic dinner, artists from all over apply to participate in a collaboration project, that involves splitting into groups of three, and after reading a full-length play, creating a theatrical piece based on their reactions.

In order to prepare for the project, Jane Claire Remick (visual artist), Jack Novak (actor and playwright), and Ethan Foote (musician and composer) read Jason Gray Platt’s play Frontier, As Told by the Frontier, which will premiere at the Source Festival on June 19 at 8 PM. The story follows a group of children in an apocalyptic world, but the themes that inspired the three artists were the ideas of myths and animal masks. These ideas led to the creation of Fox Cried.

The cast of 'Fox Cried.' Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
The cast of ‘Fox Cried.’ Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Fox Cried dealt with the idea of reality versus uncertainty, and focused on the story behind a myth entitled Fox Cried. The myth discussed the complicated relationship between a hare, a crow, and a fox, and the three actors wore animal masks to represent the creatures. They described the events in the myth through dance, from the love story between the fox and the crow to the betrayal of the hare.

The truly interesting part, however, was the evolution of chaos throughout the piece due to the actors messing up their parts. As the number of mishaps increased, it started to become clear that some of them could have been intentional. I felt physically uncomfortable watching mistake after mistake occur on stage, especially due to the small space in which the play was staged. The intimate feel only increased my discomfort and while this bothered me as I was witnessing the events unfold, looking back, I appreciate how a play could affect me in such a way. The actors were inspired by the sense of chaos in Frontier, As Told by the Frontier, and they successfully caused me to develop an intense reaction to their own form of chaos.

During the talkback after the show, it became clear that the actors all had to explore outside of their comfort zones in order to create this piece. Going into the Artistic Blind Date adventure, each of them had yet to truly venture outside their designated discipline. However, in order to collaborate and create their show, that is precisely what they had to do. Remick, mainly having experience in multi-media art, had to perform on stage, Novak had to choreography, and Foote learned to perform in a manner far different than his typical concerts.

The discussion with the artists gave me a new appreciation for the play. The Source Festival’s mission to grant artists of all disciplines an opportunity to work together to create an original piece is an incredible idea. As seen through Fox Cried, the mission has great potential to succeed, and can result in something exciting and unexpected.

While the artists admitted to some difficulty, I feel they succeeded. Fox Cried is like nothing I have ever seen before. The story deals with ideas that are very real in everyday life, like love and betrayal, but portrays them in an experimental manner that forces the audience to think, which I loved. This was my first experience with the Source Festival, but I look forward to seeing more of this year’s offerings.

Running Time: 20 minutes, with 15-minute talk back after the performance.

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Fox Cried plays June 22 and June 30 at 3 PM, and June 23 at 1 PM at Source Theatre – 1835 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.

Read other Source Festival reviews on DCMTA.