Source Festival Review: ‘Countdown’

Countdown: An Interlude

Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” This statement is particularly apposite to the CulturalDC Source Festival, which is always cause for celebration. This year, there were three themes: Mortality, Revenge, and Quests. As Artistic Director Jenny McConnell Frederick notes, “Each one of us can hear the clock ticking inside us, time pressing us forward—to a goal, to retribution, and to death. It’s what we do along that journey that defines us.”

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At Source, an “Artistic Blind Date” involves artists from different disciplines collaborating to create a new work. In Countdown, by Meredith Bove, Swedian Lie, and Raymond Weilacher, we have three gifted practitioners: Bove is a choreographer, performance artist and teacher; Lie is a designer and director (his website,, is playful and creative), and Weilacher is a performance artist and musician. Countdown, like all the best conceptual art, inspires us to look deeper and encounter familiar ideas in a fresh way. After reading the full-length play The Thrush and the Woodpecker by Steve Yockey, which is also being presented at the Festival, these three artists explored their interpretations of the play and the theme of Revenge.

As the piece opens, Bove is stepping carefully around chalk outlines, suggestive of a crime scene. Lie and Weilacher are quietly making origami. A microphone hangs in the middle of the space. Sounds of bangs and tweets create an atmosphere of tension. A bell rings. The microphone swings back and forth like a pendulum. A performer makes a card house; another performer strikes it down. The first performer is guided to lie down, and is carefully outlined with chalk. The pattern is repeated. A series of enigmatic statements follows, for instance: “We are all our own prisons and our own wardens.” At one point, the three performers look out the window. At another, they inspect us, as if they are about to herd us into some kind of detention.

A spirited discussion follows. One theme is the inevitability of fate. Another: the court system as a social act of revenge. Another; what is justice? Is it ever clear who wins? The simplicity of the work is deceptive. There is a serious issue at stake, and the images, though graceful, are fraught with a kind of luminescent tension.

Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

This provocative work will lead to some interesting conversations. Open your mind, and enjoy!

Running Time: 25 minutes.

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Countdown plays tomorrow June 15th at 3 PM and 7 PM and on June 28th at 3 and 7 PM at Source Festival, performing at Source-1835 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at  (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

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