Just steps away from the Monroe Street Arts Walk in Brookland, music fills the humid summer air, canvas tents offer shelter from the hustle of the city, and a company of seven artists and their facilitators create a world both strangely unlike yet completely reminiscent of our own. This is the world of banished? Production’s I Thought the Earth Remembered Me.
Known for its collaborative, immersive, and interdisciplinary works in several mediums, the avant-pop performance company banished? Productions offers a feast for the senses in I Thought the Earth Remembered Me. As the performance begins, audience members are assigned a facilitator (Emily Gilson and production intern Timotheé Courouble), and these facilitators lead them to and from miniature performance stations. Each miniature performance stations is independent of the others, yet a clear energy and singular spirit unites them all.
Director Ronee Penoi and conceiver Carmen C. Wong’s visions are present throughout the entire piece. As I walked through each station, I was invited to sift through corn kernels, enjoy homemade bread, and run my fingers through grassy moss. Though these experiences are primarily sensory, they are each laced with a story, a pulse that gives them life and connects them to the earth from which they are inspired. In “The Ceremony,” Ronee Penoi and Roo George-Warren sing with open hearts and steady melodies. Penoi and George-Warren each possess soft, sweet voices that elicit both joy and foreboding. David Szanto shares both his bread and his own touchingly personal story in The Gastronome in You; both are sure to move and inspire all who taste and hear.
In the effervescently haunting interpretive dance “What I Remember,” Meredith Bove evokes both the pain and nostalgia that are suggested by the words on the screens below her movements. In Drift, the isolation and immersion of living on the ocean floor is achieved through headphones, a small window that peers into a panoramic box, and Cecilia Cackley’s masterful guidance. When one sense is absent, the others are heightened, and this phenomenon is achieved in Being Moss, performed by Carmen C. Wong and Ashi K. Day, as audience members are blindfolded and invited to touch, taste, and hear. The technical elements of I Thought the Earth Remembered Me, overseen by technical director Niell DuVal, allow the performances at each station to flow seamlessly.
In a performance piece that weaves together theatre, movement, music, culinary art, and nature, banished? Productions’s I Thought the Earth Would Remember Me is a uniquely thrilling endeavor that must be experienced firsthand for its true beauty and heart to be understood and felt. With a wonderful team of dedicated artists, it is not to be missed!
Running Time: 45-50 minutes.
I Thought the Earth Remembered Me runs through Sunday, July 19, 2015 at the banished? Artillery located at Studio #27 – 716 Monroe Street NE, in Washington DC. To purchase tickets, please visit their Capital Fringe page.
RATING: BEST OF THE 2015 CAPITAL FRINGE