Attack Theatre headed back to its home turf in the Strip District — well, almost. But the the Society for Contemporary Craft is well within walking distance of the company’s studios at the Pittsburgh Opera facility.
The Society offered its neighbors a wide open bright space with a permanent performing area near the entrance. The main inspiration came from an exhibit called “Eden Revisited — The Ceramics Work of Kurt Weiser.” As the website says, “His subject matter illustrates lush, mysterious landscapes and distorted narratives set amidst color-saturated flora and fauna that read as voyeuristic snapshots of the human condition.” Hm-m-m, it sounded as though this could be a good match for “Assemble This.”
With the audience gathered comfortably around them, the Attackers put forth the thematic skeleton, labeled as “skin and bones…no heart or lungs.” I don’t know — Michele de la Reza always gives out eminently breathable dance.
Soon we shifted over to the first inspiration piece, Weiser’s plainly-named “Raku Stirrup Jar 1981.” But the onlookers found “a secret space inside, “an eggshell” at the bottom, a “one-eyed sad cookie” and “a timelessness.”
First Dane Toney was the mark, “completely enclosed” by the other three dancers and looking like a floating hieroglyphic at times. Then he worked inside his “secret space,” tracing semicircles with his foot to cellist Dave Eggar’s leaping trills, soft and cushy, but with a Haydn-esque surprise chord.
Liz Chang and percussionist Charlie Palmer took over the “fragile eggshell” portion — she tiptoeingand he doing likewise, with a smashbox at the end. De la Reza took on the “handle” from the stirrup jar with Peter Kope — in a wonderful concoction of shapes. Kope found delectable handles, not always the ones de la Reza was offering him. And they certainly had an unalterable trust — he dropped her nearly to the floor from shoulder height.
Everyone filed down to the lower level for part two, an always succulent musical pleasure directed by Eggar, who likes to occasionally have his way with the order of the dance. The second bit of inspiration wasn’t really a piece of art. Or was it? I never found out. The participants called it “a drill,” “a top-heavy pasta maker,” “my grandmother’s washing machine” with a “bus driver’s wheel” on top.
That produced “Italian memories” with Kope and Toney who approached each other sensuously and puckered without a kiss, then offered tongue but no action. “Waiting for the bus” contained some operatic selections, perhaps inspired by the presence of Pittsburgh Opera general director, Christopher Hahn. With Eggar in a musical groove, more additions included “something of a mysterious purpose” (Toney again) and “grinding metal music with viscous surface movement.”
With our musical plates nearly filled, we headed back upstairs to a beautiful double-sided teapot by Weiser. It had no spout but did have its own aromatic artwork and was titled “Small Fruit 2000.” The audience, in a groove of its own, offered “Alice in Wonderland,” “curves,” “doppelgangers” and “a new retelling of an old story.”
Already the Attackers were willing to cut a part of the skeleton, given the plethora of ideas. The sandwich board was awash with words. But they began the premiere/finale presentation with confidence. The acoustics had been great, the dance and music gracefully intertwined. Emcee Ricardo Robinson was moved to add some soft “wailing” through cupped hands over his mouth.
And even though one young woman nearly fainted and the performance took a pause while people attended to her, it finished, remarkably seamlessly, with Adam and Eve’s fall from grace and the idea of a whisper.
Tonight is the real finale at the Andy Warhol Museum, although it appears to be sold out. See you at the dance!