Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1953), even though it was somewhat unconventional in its premise as it wrestled with existential problems of being and nothingness, had a long run on Broadway. If you have a chance, try to catch the new “Godot” at LaMama, choreographed, directed and performed by Sin Cha Hong. It is a both delightful and intense one-woman show by one of New York’s most popular artists. In the 70s and 80s, she created the Laughing Stone Dance Theater and performed with John Cage and Nam June Paik. She moved away back to Korea in 1993 where she received many prizes and honors as a major artist. She also published a book, Excuse for Freedom, which has been a bestseller in Korea.
Sin Cha Hong’s “Godot” is a streamlined interpretation of philosophical uncertainty. The first section is a textural exchange between performer and musician – David Simons artfully composes a live score with strange percussion instruments, some of which he made – such as what sounds like some 19th century Japanese instrument – but actually it’s just a piece of styrofoam with rubber bands stretched across it, played with subtlety and ear – one for recycling…very 21st century. Other sounds are produced out of a large array of unexpected instruments by which he creates an Asian-inspired musical atmosphere that weaves right along with the movements of the performer. The coordination between the two is utterly remarkable and fascinating to watch.
The set design by Young A Choi is minimal and completely in tune with the piece, while the lighting design by David Moody is right on target. The costumes by Hae Ja Han are clever in their near-invisibility of whiteness. There are many exciting moments in the piece – the sexy red shoes, the ghost scene where she nearly disappears in a white cloth on the floor (a short-lived taste of “Ringu”), the rope section which reflects back to the original play, and moving moments like the recorded music sung by the unique voice of Lisa Karrer and the traditional Jewish lullaby on tape that comes at the end. I cannot begin to describe the intelligence that went into this piece. The 21st century is the time for ’smart’ dancers, and here is one.
The Annex Theater at LaMama, 74A East 4th Street – performances tonight, at 7:30 and Sunday November 30 at 2:30PM.