...on "THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM"
"'The Elephant in the Room' has that lucid energy, that skill and fluency in so many forms, but where it shines, where it sticks in memory are those big, suspended, juicy trusting moments when they reveal tantalizing portions of that true thing that is simply too big for human beings to conceptualize."
"After a four-year parenting hiatus, Performancelab’s John Baumann and Jennifer Gwirtz’ reentry into the hybrid arts scene combined movement, text, shadow, and song into a piece both playful and poignant.
An invisible elephant, “ignored by the crowned heads of Europe,” graced the center of a low-rent circus ring. An elephant of course is a convenient metaphor for an unwieldy truth, hinted at obliquely throughout the piece. At times very large, at times very small, and at times created by the very bodies of the performers attempting to come up with its ultimate definition, the elephant inhabited its mutable space with the silent aplomb of a consummate pro. Meanwhile, the Performancelab cast -- Baumann, Gwirtz, Laura Marsh, and Lisa Claybaugh -- pinwheeled around it dressed like ragamuffin circus clowns, exploring the forces of gravity, fear, and dream. From a study in the anarchy of goofing off to a lone woman’s struggle against a headwind of unseen adversity, a comical interlude with Dr Seuss’s legal team to a slow-motion Alice in Wonderland eat me/drink me sequence, a faceoff at the water cooler between “the counter-culture” and “ the establishment” to an ode to willful obliviousness, each small piece sparkled with sly intelligence, humor, and heart. It could have been just a tentative toe dip into the performance pool, but it felt more like an attempt to test the high dive."
-Nicole Gluckstern, San Francisco Bay Guardian
ON "WHAT STAYS"
"The last days of June saw the return of Right Brain Performancelab’s dance theater/performance installation “What Stays”, co-produced with Dance Up Close/East Bay. A mobile, multi-disciplined art piece directed by Jennifer Gwirtz, “What Stays” features a powerful combination of music, soundscore, text, dance and mask. This most recent iteration inhabited the entire Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, utilizing the porch, vestibule, staircase, two downstairs studios, two upstairs studios, dressing rooms and even the roof. As the audience was ushered from space to space, a deliciously wacky set of interactions transpired. The key narrative of home underscored the entire work, yet each vignette approached the notion from a unique perspective...“What Stays” did a great job of delving into its chosen narrative with a variety of scope and perspective. And even with the number of times the audience was moved to a new location, the flow was never once interrupted."