NOTE: As part of Durham Independent Dance Artist’s current (2017-2018) season, the premiere run of Ginger Wagg & Wild Actions’ “Frivolous Artist” continues at 7:30 p.m. today (March 29), Friday (March 30) and Saturday (March 31) at The Fruit, the renovated, historic Durham Fruit & Produce warehouse at 305 S. Dillard St. in downtown Durham, NC.
This performance begins outside so dress for the weather.
For tickets: www.gingerwagg.com
By SUSAN BROILI
The fact that this performance began outside signaled that this would be different from other dance performances staged at The Fruit. Even the disbursement of tickets took a creative turn. Directed by Ginger Wagg and co-created with Patience, this performance, once it entered this renovated, historic warehouse, would continue to go where no other dance-makers have gone.
For me, this innovative approach encouraged a heightened sense of awareness both outside and inside this structure.
While waiting outside to see the first performance installation, we heard music and saw, on The Fruit rooftop, Danny Grewen playing his brass euphonium horn. And, this led me to look at the pale, blue sky above him and see two white streams of jets shooting upwards and a moon on its way to being full.
For the first installation, Carley McCready put in some impressive physical work that included both deconstruction (using a sledge hammer to pulverize rocks) and construction (creating a sculpture of stacked logs.) The small area of bare ground where she worked at one end of The Fruit seemed to be the only undeveloped plot left in this area of downtown where a growth spurt has spawned multiple high rises that dwarf The Durham Performing Arts Center four blocks away.
The performance continued inside the historic warehouse. After passing a silver-spangled, revolving dress in a plastic case, Patience, in a pink star outfit, led audience members inside the cavernous basement of The Fruit and asked people to gather, in seats and standing behind the seats, to have a photo taken. I never saw anyone take a photo. But this wait did have the positive effect of time to take in this vast space in which history felt palpable. Walls and support beams made of massive, concrete blocks testified to this structure’s endurance 92 years after the warehouse opened in 1926. Then, it housed giant coolers for fruits and vegetables arriving by train on the nearby tracks. I wondered about the people who worked in the warehouse then and where this produce wholesaler sold its stock. Today, the warehouse bears different fruit as current owner Tim Walter dedicates 22,000 square feet of warehouse space to visual and performing arts. (None of those events I have attended there have been in the basement, however, – until now.)
Then, right in front of us Ginger Wagg materialized from the darkness as lights went up on her. In front of one of the support columns, she shed three body suits. Then, in short-sleeved T-shirt, jeans and athletic shoes, she delivered a tour de force performance that included struggles to get up from the floor, herky-jerky body moves, guttural vocalizations, yelling and hysterical crying. Her performance was punctuated by Danny Grewen’s trombone’s vibrations, bleating and two, low tones produced at the same time that reminded me of Tibetian throat-singing.
Finally, Wagg stood still in front of the same support column as the light on her faded to black.
After this impressive performance, audience members had an opportunity for cathartic release in the next installation on the main level of The Fruit, where different-sized metal objects suspended and scattered on the floor, invited participation. Most audience members used the objects as noise makers while a few others opted for order and, together, produced some satisfying rhythms.
On the cold, dark walk to my car, the heightened awareness encouraged by this innovative program persisted and continued as I turned on the heat and drove home.