|A STREET CORNER PIERROT conceived and performed
by Terrell Robinson, is a performance piece portraying a once-successful
and accomplished dancer who wanders the streets of New York missing the
years of a life once lived, speaking of his past, telling of his dancing.
Thematically, it focuses on the artist's role in society, race in the identity
of the artist, and the similarities among all people, including the homeless.
It aims to show how the artist lives always on the edge of homelessness,
whether emotionally or in actual reality. Sheila Kaminsky directs.
The character of Pierrot is inspired by real and imaginary people, and
is seen at various periods of his life--between his 20's and 70's. He
weeps, stumbling shivering with cold, remembering the dance world of the
'40s and '50s, when Black dancers were still outsiders. As an older man,
rescued and rehabilitated into society, Pierrot cannot remember his "lost
years." Only his caretakers, carefully reconstructing his past from
his scattered remembrances, can fill the gaps for him. The play captures
the imagery, disorientation and unbalanced loss of dignity that accompany
Pierrot's flashbacks are instructive, as they remind us of the barriers
to any dancer of color, no matter how talented, in the artistic world
of his time. But his barriers are more complex than that. The suspicion
is that society has a real interest in keeping the community of homeless
people in that state. (Is it fear or another force that makes this so?)
A young and beauteous male dancer could still break through, although
he had to live sometimes on the streets, which didn't seem as mean at
the time. The irony is that, bereft of short term memory, Pierrot lives
again on the streets, hapless and homeless; this time unable to muster
the resourcefulness to survive as he did in his youth.
The production has a film noir-esque design, and is rendered entirely
with silhouettes, shadows, scrims and images moving in and out of light
without any colored illumination. Sound is like a second character onstage:
it informs the movement, and vice-versa.
Terrell Robinson is better-known as an actor, but he is also a well-trained
ballet dancer and mime who actually lived as a mime and street performer
in his early days in New York. He was a close collaborator of the late
playwright Damon Wright: he directed Wright's "The Quadroon Ball"
and "Mr. Baldwin Goes to Heaven" at LaMaMa and also acted in
the latter. He acted in Robert Wilson's "Medea" and "Edison,"
John Vaccarro's "A Writer's Opera," Jeff Weiss's "And That's
How the Rent Gets Paid," and appears regularly at La MaMa in plays
by Charles Allcroft and Jim Neu. His La MaMa appearances also include
"The Sleepless City," directed by Francoise Kourilsky, and "Dark
Twist" by Jeff Weiss. His films include "The Last Action Hero"
and "Carlito's Way." His TV appearances include "Law and
Order" and "New York Undercover." He is a member of the
Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and a Usual Suspect of the New York
Director Sheila Kaminsky is also a choreographer. She runs the dance
program at Lehman College. Her company, Sheila Kaminsky Dance Theatre,
is a mixture of dancers and actors. Her work can be seen in the repertoires
of Joan Miller Dance Company and others outside New York. Acclaimed Black
dance soloist Dyane Harvey will perform her work at the Shomberg Center
in a concert February 14.