Permanent Record | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Permanent Record 

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Do you like men in skirts? Imagine performance artists and dancers Ames Hall and Ken Thompson of Atlas/Axis as a pair of Catholic schoolgirls run astray who run, jump, leap, and perform hip-hop and Javanese dance wearing skirts, work-shirts, hiking boots, crew socks, shaved heads, and manic expressions. The result is a visual non-sequiter--intriguing, exciting, and mysterious, reminiscent of Pina Bausch and Goat Island as well as those dangerous little girls on their way home from school who hiked up their skirts, lit up cigarettes, and applied an overdose of eye makeup. Permanent Record (a year in the making at this juncture) not only attempts to deconstruct the expectations we have of everything a uniform implies but also--through dance, set, costume, and oblique dialogue--investigates alternative methods of learning, isolation tanks, telepathy, and smart drugs. When I saw Hall and Thompson last fall at the Theatre Building, I wrote that though their work possessed a sleekness and polish, it lacked soul. I assumed that this was because the ideas from the copious and self-indulgent but nonetheless entertaining program notes were not integrated more obviously into the performance. Since then the two have continued to refine this work. I saw a rehearsal last week at N.A.M.E. and can attest that the soul has now emerged. The writing is still spare, yet the highly structured movements carry the piece beautifully. N.A.M.E., 1255 S. Wabash, Suite 4A, 554-0671. June 24 and 25: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/ Ron Gordon.

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