Source Festival Review: ‘Countdown’

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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, theexquisitecollection.com, 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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Sophia Howes
Sophia Howes has been a reviewer for DCMTA since 2013 and a columnist since 2015. She is a playwright and director. An early draft of her play Southern Girl was performed at the Public Theater-NY, and two of her plays, Rosetta’s Eyes and Solace in Gondal, were produced at the Playwrights’ Horizons Studio Theatre. She studied with Curt Dempster at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, where her play Madonna was given a staged reading at the Octoberfest. Her one-acts Better Dresses and The Endless Sky, among others, were produced as part of Director Robert Moss’s Workshop-NY. She has directed The Tempest, at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheatre, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Monongalia Arts Center, both in Morgantown, WV. She studied English at Barnard, and received her BFA with honors in Drama from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Seidman Award for playwriting. Her play Adamov was produced at the Harold Clurman Theater on Theater Row-NY. She holds an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where received the Lucille Lortel Award for playwriting. She studied with, among others, Michael Feingold, Len Jenkin, Lynne Alvarez, and Tina Howe. Her father, Carleton Jones, long-time Real Estate Editor and features writer for the Baltimore Sun, inspired her to become a writer.