A STREET CORNER PIERROT

February 20 - March 2, 2003
Thursday - Saturday 10:00pm
Sundays 5:30pm
The Club


conceived and performed by: Terrell Robinson
director: Sheila Kaminsky
composer & sound designer: Joshua Camp
set design: Mark Tambella
lighting designer: Federico Restrepo
dramaturg: Maxine Kern
production manager: Ron Jones


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 homelessness.

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 Theater Workshop.

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.

2003 page