Director / Dramaturg
Steinberger’s interactive production obliterates the usual boundary between audience and performer, allowing theatergoers to not only witness the divide between servant and master, but to actually take part in it.
What InVersion’s Miss Julie stresses is the power shifts in the play - the give-and-take about who is the servant and who the master. It also smartly generates a fair amount of heat when Smith and Darrow both approach and avoid flirtation. Not that a modern townhouse can’t generate its own, but some forms of energy are always in fashion, no matter the setting.
Gregor is hectic, adaptable, ripe for intellectual debate, and invitingly weird. The look is ragged, haphazard, and surprisingly colorful, which was just what Steinberger was looking for.
This production is a physical theatre production with heightened emotions employing a range of satisfying theatrical devices. Inner monologues, role changing, puppetry, and gender reversal make for a rich, layered theatrical rainbow cake. Director William Steinberger has created a kind of a ‘Brechtian’ experience where the master of ceremonies arrives to distance us from the emotionality of the sad story we are witnessing. He has cleverly crafted a truly avant-garde world full of messy family discourse and rthe chaotic fallout of a devolving man. The stage was left in magnificent disarray, highlighting the explosive aftermath of a tramatic event. He has orchestrated a really freakish circus sideshow, inciting compulsive viewing. This emerging theater company must be commended for making their own work with such enormous energy and infectious optimism.
Combining passages of historical narrative and personal biography with 20th Century abstraction, the six creator-performers, directed by Will Steinberger, successfully interweave characters and episodes from the last days of the decade-long siege of ancient Troy with the relationship between [Cy] Twombly and fellow artist Robert Rauschenberg. … With eloquent movements, evocative sound, haunting live music, dramatic lighting, and a few simple props, they compare the gestural techniques of modern painting to the passionate acts of lovers and the hand-to-hand combat of ancient battles; the paint and canvas of the studio to the blood and shroud of a fallen combatant on the battlefield; and the horrors and heroics of war to the struggles of ‘great warrior’ artists to create ‘art that matters.’It’s clever, insightful, and compelling.
‘My God! This craze for explication!’So says a character in Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe, one of the four short plays that make up InVersion Theatre’s new presentation, Shepard/Beckett. If you have a ‘craze for explication’—or, in other words, if you prefer realism to symbolism—the works of Beckett and Sam Shepard may not be for you; Beckett’s abstract work can confound as much as it fascinates, and much of Shepard’s work follows Beckett’s lead but adds a brooding tone informed by the American counterculture. Yet at their best, these four works can be absorbing. They’re best served by a scrupulous, disciplined approach to the text and the movements, which director William Steinberger provides in this well-done production.Shepard’s work is more accessible by far, and his Red Cross provides a lot for the audience to enjoy, especially with its wild comic monologues by Lizzie Spellman as a woman who imagines a skiing excursion that turns gory, and by Hannah Gold as a meek maid who gets coaxed into simulating a swimming lesson on a hotel bed. Brian Ratcliffe plays a man with a hygiene problem who affects—and infects—the two women in different ways. In the other Shepard piece, Killer’s Head, Will Thompson delivers a mesmerizing, wide-ranging monologue about horses, cows and trucks, all while sitting in a chair with a bandana across his eyes. It’s only at the speech’s end that we find out the reason for that bandana. In Beckett’s haunting Footfalls, Spellman is affecting as a woman who spends eternity trudging through twilight, hearing only the distant voice of her mother (Gold). And in Catastrophe, Ratcliffe and Spellman are a dictatorial stage director and his eager-to-please assistant, manipulating the body of a silent actor (Thompson) to fit a prearranged vision—and robbing him of his free will in the process.Sarah Elger’s scenic design has a crisp, clinical look. The stage is filled with boxes and boards covered tightly with white sheets, and the boxes serve as everything from a plinth for the silent actor to stand upon in Catastrophe to a pair of beds in Red Cross. Rachel George’s lighting is as precise as the actors’ movements, varying in extremes of intensity to meet the characters’ moods.Those with a taste for the experimental will be grateful for these reverent takes on the work of two irreverent artists.
Inspired by the poetry of Wallace Stevens and the streets of our city, the self-guided soundscape is a romantic stroll for one through Philly’s pathways, enhanced by a special app for your smart phone.
It’s like a romantic date with the city you love.