Lullabies for my Father
Albuquerque's Tricklock Company is known for creating new work that combines physicality, poetry and artistic risk. Lullabies for my Father, part of the company's Excavations New Work Series and performed at The Box Performance Space in downtown Albuquerque, is no exception. Drawn from interviews in the Albuquerque community about fathers, and developed through improvisation, Lullabies incorporates authentic stories (what Tricklock calls "verbatim theatre" but other practitioners call personal narrative, documentary, or ethnographic performance) intercut with choreographed sequences and music to set up a multi-prismed focus on fathers and fatherhood. The show opened for a short run (June 17-20) in the Excavations Series to get feedback from audiences, and, after more workshop, will be presented in a slightly longer version in May of 2011 according to Tricklock company member and Managing Director, Dodie Montgomery. In spite of being labeled a work in progress, the June run was polished and provocative, and its young, talented cast crackled with energy and enthusiasm.
Directed by Kevin R. Elder and performed by Summer Olsson, Alex Knight, Dodie Montgomery, Davey Rogulich and Hannah Kauffmann, Lullabies for my Father is structured around several personal stories, but one, an account of a father dying of colon cancer, forms the spine of the production. Performed by Dodie Montgomery, the story focuses on the teller more than the subject, and expresses the mounting cost of pain and deterioration for both the caretaker and the dying parent. The story, while an absorbing one, made me curious to know more details about the quality of the relationship between the teller and her subject before the illness began. Additionally, this show has room for more than one extended story, which will take the pressure off the cancer narrative as an archetype of father-offspring relationships.
This longer narrative is intercut with other shorter stories, abstract choreographed sequences, and sizzling presentational moments about fathers, for example a collage of comments from the Facebook fan pages of I Hate My Dad and My Dad's The Best Dad in the World. The show fluidly alternates moods and rhythms, movement and stillness, humor and pathos. The pacing and staging maximize audience engagement. The amount and energy of comments during Sunday's talkback (appropriately on Father's Day) spoke a loud affirmative that the subject matter has resonance.
One of the show's most affecting scenes is a wordless sequence in which the actors, playing various children, approach "Dad"asking for affection or validation perhapsand the actor playing the father (Hannah Kauffmann) interrupts her reading the newspaper and dispatches them each time with a dollar bill. The scene escalates into a frenzied choreography of angst and denial of authentic contact.
Gender is fluid in the production with each actor wearing a white or cream long-sleeved shirt, brown pants, and a tie. The stage is bare except for chairs that serve multiple functions and locations; the sound and light cues are run at what looks like Dad's workbench up stage left. Workshop productions like this one weave the audience into the genesis of the production, creating loyal theatregoers as well as a superior product through extended development. Lullabies for my Father exemplifies Tricklock's ingenuity and facility, and will only grow more affecting in its next iteration.
For more information, visit www.tricklock.com.
-- Lynn Miller