Identity is a door, and it follows that this door needs to rest upon hinges that allow it to open and close. The hinges of ones identity are formed by the ever evolving constructs of experience.
And so, with every fleeting moment, we are making changes to how far, and in which direction, we are going to allow our doors to open.
The relative lubrication of our hinges is based on a set of tools that are given at the start of our lives, some of these are innate, most are not.
These "tools" are made available to us depending on the culture and society we are born into, this entails the limitations(within limitations) that accompany being born into a world that is still largely made up for the most part of patriarchal societies. How far we are willing to open our doors and alter our identities depends on how well greased our hinges are, and how well greased our hinges are, rests upon how far we are willing to go, versus how far our society and culture is willing to let us go....
That is... until you fight back.
This is one of the central themes explored in MDLSX; the nature of identity. Its structure and malleability or, nature versus nurture; how much of us is innate, and what part does gender play in all of this complexity. This dualism has fascinated humanity for as long as we can collectively remember, and the ascent above our sexual boundaries via the reformatting of our identities as a subject has served as the basis for countless myths and legends, but delving into this, though fascinating, would take ages, and would surely bore those who came here to read a play review, and so.....
MDLSX is a play by MOTUS (a name ironically similar to modus, as in modus vivendi, meaning: an arrangement or agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist peacefully, either indefinitely or until a final settlement is reached), a world renown italian theater troupe.
It is more or less 80 minutes long and stars Silvia Calderoni, and was directed by Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolò.
Cal, the central character of the play, is effectively learning how to break down the limitations that have been imposed upon her since her birth, crossing over to the other side of the mirror, and effectively breaking free of the chains that have bound and confound her since her conception, this is the story of someone who is learning to open her door both ways.
In the modern world, where time is increasingly fragmented and divided into momentary lapses of attention, and information is consumed like fast food; in a frivolous manner(swipe...swipe..swipe....), one barely has the time ti assimilate ideas before changing channels. The "art of now" has re-surged amongst many other new age concepts of mindfulness and spirituality, "You got to LIVE in the MOMENT!" is still holding on, refusing to disappear from our collective cultural lingo. What is strange, though, is that people actually seem to be losing touch with what it really means to really LIVE in the moment, and seem to be passively existing through multitude of moments more than actually living.
Now, rarely does one experience transcendence through theater, attaining that point where you experience total immersion in the the experience, the fusion of fact and fiction, the total eclipsing of time itself, the ecstatic orgasm of the psycho-spiritual being that, although sometimes fleeting, is the "raison d'etre" of many artists, who strive; through practice or performance, to return to this sublime state of bliss.
Though I cannot say that that MOTUS's MDLSX had this effect on me(not to say that I didn't thoroughly enjoy the experience), I do believe that Sylvia Calderoni was there, she was living it.
To see an actress(or actor) so totally immersed in a part is akin to seeing actual magic taking place, it is the total transmogrification of the ego into a direct and disturbingly realistic manifestation of the character, like the channeling of an otherworldly entity through ones own body. The flexibility of being is a theme that is widely explored in MOTUS's dyonisian one woman show, and is seen from many different perspectives.
The Aesthetic of the piece is a reminiscent 60`s and 70`s dionysian psychedelia, blending occult looking symbols(metallic triangles and luminous circles) with acid drenched colors and a psychedelic atmosphere, combined with seedy elements that have a distinctly 80's vibe,
the color scheme was reminiscent of blade runner, blended with rave style fluorescence and lasers.
The result is a psy-peepshow-esque look that is fully appropriate considering the subject matter and the largely seedy aesthetic adopted by certain parts of the LGBTQUIA culture throughout the last few decades.
Silvia's physique, coupled the multiple costume changes, left me thinking of Bowie and his legacy, or Tilda Swinton(whose aesthetic is reminiscent of the former), which makes Silvia a very welcome addition to the extremely bad-ass androgynous artists club, WELCOME IN!
The show's special effects are metaphorically appropriate and wholly suitable, and yet refreshingly minimalist. The entirety of the show rests upon the dynamic stage presence of the lead actress, whose body serves as a narrative device, you get to watch her constant transformation, as well of the transformation of the theater space via her narrative, which mixes monologue with lyrical movement.
The blending of subject matter; transcendence, transformation, ascension, with the darker side of living on the fringes of gender definition couldn't help but remind me of Bowie and his career long obsession with the transcendence of gender as a way of raising the human spirit above the norm.
Silvia Calderoni's GRAND portrayal of Cal, the main character of the play, is truly something to behold, as she struts across the stage with teenage-bowie-like swagger, truly rockstar-esque, and yet at once childlike and very adult, her face is sometimes soft and playful, only to abruptly resume the look of a starved coyote, cold and foreboding. Her androgynous frame seems barely capable of containing the lifelong concoction of emotion that has built up within the character. We observe, mesmerized, as it twitches its way out of her, contorting, flexing its way through her bones and out through her limbs in seizures of writhing dance and hedonistic gesticulations; anger, disgust, self loathing, confusion, angst, lust, loneliness, elation, liberation, joy, ecstasy; each of these emotions delicately layered and sewn into the seams of the narrative.
Faithful to truth, the emotions of Cal are not clearly defined, and every moment of joy is underpinned by multiple layers of conflicting emotional turmoil.
I believe that theater is a feedback loop of mutation through transformation. By using basic elements like actors, props, music and script, we bear witness to the transformation(forgive my abuse) from the banal to the magnificent, which in turn, transforms the audience, and whilst the audience experiences an interior alteration of their spirit; the actors are often experiencing an internal transformation of their own; the degree of mutation experienced by the viewers vary, but the freakishly grandiose effect that this can have on human beings is still being tested today.
I do believe I walked out of the theater having been transformed, by the witnessing(literally and metaphorically) of the transformation of the main actress.
It can be said that this play suffers from Omphaloskepsis, or Navel-gazing,
For it is built around the theme of self, with dialogue that seems to have been lifted from the pages of a private journal, and selfie inspired handheld camera-play that is reminiscent of teenagers rocking out in front of mirrors or popping their pimples(the whole projected onto a circular screen reminiscent of a peep hole in a peep show), doubtless, it is voyeuristic, and it employs large amounts of gratuitous nudity in order to shock its audience into submission. The body is central to the themes and the self examination of one's bio suit is quite prevalent.
But wait, lets look closer....
What part does the theater play in modern society?
WHAT IS THE THEATER FOR!?
Its for doing everything that you cant do in a film, whilst educating the masses, it is a "laisser-passer" artistique, and i'm proud to say that that this play employs that "laisser-passer" quite effectively.
I would also argue that the nudity is wholly appropriate, and suitable, in fact, it is one of the most important metaphorical mechanisms that is employed; the undoing of the concept of "the naked truth". It is about the shameless baring of ones self, the demystification and desexualization of the naked body, which still has a long way to go, and so; the nudity actually serves to force the narrative further, far beneath the limits of the skin, into realms that are not visible, measurable, judgeable, and most of all, not "categorizable".
This is not a flaw, but an advantage.
Rarely are we exposed to subject matter that helps to educate on issues of non conventional sexuality, and even more rarely do we see something so masterfully crafted and accessible as a means of enlightenment on issues that need to be addressed.
Too often is this subject matter forced into the place society has chosen for it, and kept within its ring of cliches that have long since been stigmatized and melded into parts of culture that are totally irrelevant.
This work of art is a masterful re-imagining(and re-imaging) of the LGBDTQIA struggle, made tangible to the plebs, and should be welcomed with open arms as a work of unprecedented innovation on the subject.
And on a final note(a proud B-flat), it must said that the only thing that MANY people seem more obsessed with than themselves is, watching OTHER people obsess over themselves.
Youtube, reality television, there are countless examples.
We are social animals, and as humanity goes through its endless chain of transformations, our ways of experiencing empathy are changing, maybe we're becoming desensitized to others and need a more raw experience, something more HD than before, that reeks more of truth and intimacy, like blase porn addicts, or maybe its just the opposite, maybe we are losing interest in narrative, and beginning to embrace the character concept, with all of its depth and layering.
That is for you to decide. Oh, and you should look up the real definition of omphaloskepsis, its actually quite interesting, if you want to become cross-eyed.
But what is most interesting about it all is that identity, is in itself a performance, so..... What we have here is a performance, about the transformative and deceptive nature of ones performance in accordance with ones own identity, and society, but this is but one of many layers in this russian doll of a concept.
MOTUS'S MDLSX'S LAST SCHEDULED MONTREAL PERFORMANCE WILL BE TAKING PLACE THIS EVENING AT L'USINE C AT 8 O CLOCK.
Be there, and be square, straight, gay, bi, trans, les, stealth, omni................