Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012

One Person And A Story

1 Person, 1 Stage, 1 Audience--NEAT with Renaissance

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Marti Gobel in NEAT photographer: Ross Zentner

In and amidst everything else that theatre is, it’s way too easy to forget that it’s the simple act of storytelling in front of a live group of people. As inherently social creatures with a profound amount of neurological real estate set aside for things like . . . recognizing minute differences in faces . . . storytelling is the heart of human interaction. Arguably it was the source of language to begin with, so it only makes sense that the most primal aspect of human interaction . . .  the simple act of telling a story would remain appealing in the modern world.

What still draws people to The Moth and Ex Fabula is drawing people to the Broadway Theatre Center’s studio  theatre as Renaissance Theaterworks presents Charlayne Woodard’s Neat. It’s a powerful story told well by an impressively well-modulated Marti Gobel. She’s telling a story drawn from  Woodard’s life that ties together quite a lot of the historic end of the African American experience in the second half of the 20th Century. The latest in Renaissance’s Diversity Series, it’s an interesting exploration of history that would be nothing without the solid, simple act of telling a story.

Going to a show like this is all to concise a reminder that all you really need for theatre is a story, at least one person to hear it and at least one person to listen to it. The rest is all details. And any stage that’s empty could be used for this sort of thing. It’s not difficult to imagine people being drawn out to shows like this all over town in every corner of the city. People like telling stories. People like listening to them. That’s the essence of theatre and it’s definitely a way to attract people to the stage who might not normally be inclined to come. It costs relatively little to mount a show like this and its capable of being every bit as captivating as a truly immense show with sets, costuming and some kind of ridiculous budget.

Renaissance Theaterworks’ production of Neat runs through February 5th at the Broadway theatre Center’s Studio Theatre. For ticket reservations, call 414-291-7800.

 

  

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