Performance Standards | Letters | Chicago Reader

Performance Standards 

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To the editors:

In his review of Organic Theater's production of Titus Andronicus [October 16], Tom Valeo, referring to the play's director, states: "Like a performance artist, Riccio is stressing visual communication." I take exception with the premise of this statement. Performance art does not necessarily stress the visual; rather, to its credit, performance art is a loosely-defined, "anything goes" kind of movement that stresses whatever element its practitioner chooses to stress.

Recently I shared the stage at Link's Hall with Mark Roth and Deborah Pintonelli in what was billed as "An Evening of Talking Performance Art." While each act incorporated certain visual elements, in each case it was the words spoken that brought to life the ideas presented. In my own case, props, taped music, a strobe light, and even sign language may enhance the presentation, but it is verbal, not visual, communication that ultimately does the job of letting me say what I want to say.

For that matter, consider the practically propless Spalding Gray, one of the most influential performance artists working today. Do his monologues stress "visual communication"?

The nice thing about performance art is that it is not restricted by the structural parameters imposed on other art forms--at least, not yet. Can we please try to keep it that way for as long as possible?

Paul McComas

Evanston

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