The Field 3-City Exchange | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Field 3-City Exchange 

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One of the most quietly innovative multidisciplinary performance workshops in the United States, the Field has for years yielded a rich crop of new work from choreographers, playwrights, other spoken-word artists, and intriguing hybrids of the above. Started in New York, this artist-run organization now has branches in 11 other cities, including Chicago. The idea is for performers to support and enhance the work of their peers through constructive feedback and cross-pollination of genres. While living in San Francisco, I saw Field comic monologuists successfully integrate masks and movement and dancers begin to use snippets of dialogue effectively. This weekend Link's Hall showcases two hometown Field artists, a third performer from Philadelphia, and a fourth from Atlanta. And though these four solo pieces differ greatly in form, there's a satisfying thematic unity to the evening since all the artists address crisis, change, and growth. Nana Shineflug's Shimmering on the Edge, a multimedia meditation on randomness in mathematics, art, and life, incorporates projections of fractals and Jackson Pollock paintings, movement, china plates skittering across the stage, and rueful commentary on burnout, loss, and rejuvenation to make a graceful case for embracing the unknown and unknowable. Lisa Lewis's heartbreakingly funny Working My Way Back to You Babe, a monologue with movement, traces her youthful decline and rebirth in the shadow of bipolar disorder. With a refreshing lack of self-pity, she captures the fear, shame, and self-loathing of mental illness in a piece studded with clever insights and asides--the effect is rather like The Bell Jar as interpreted by Janeane Garofalo. Philadelphian Della Cowall performs a wistful, delicate, finely wrought dance, Cheers for Molly, that wordlessly brings to life an aging cheerleader. And Atlantan Hilary Benedict's dance Flux conjures the spirit and shape of Florida water birds, caught between blissfully unaware freedom and a pernicious fear of predators. Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824. June 15 through 17: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $10.

--Kerry Reid

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

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