Most Don’t Whip ‘Um

Mddancinggirls_1This past Friday night we were invited out to see a production by Cynthia Hopkins at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO (Brooklyn).  I loved that our friends were getting together about 40 people to see something.  They are both involved in the arts, mostly theater, and thanks to evite,  they said it wasn’t that hard to organize.

St. Ann’s Warehouse would be a great place to have an event.  One huge room when you walk in that is connected to another large room where the performance takes place.  Big huge ceilings.  Like the name, an old warehouse transformed into a place to put on productions.  Very cool.

The seating there is uncomfortable to say the least so keep that in mind for future performances.  This particular performance last 90 minutes, no introduction.   

It is very hard to categorize Cynthia Hopkins.   She is certainly creative.  Possibly brilliant.  Yet, it is not a show for everyone.  It is performance art using multi-media mixed with a music concert around a bizarre story which is a tribute to her supposed mother with politics being the overlaying theme.  Yep, that pretty much sums it up. 

Her voice is beautiful.  The band that accompanies her is quite talented.  They play up on the second tier overlooking the stage.  Each have their own style of dress.  The drummer is a girl with sunglasses definitely enjoying the evening.  The horns player is part of the performance and during each song he works the sound quality with the board attached to the wall.  That in itself is quite interesting to watch.

The story is about her mother, who is no longer with us, or might be because we are never really sure.  She was a 60’s radical who got involved in Morocco with a bunch of radicals that were being pursued possibly by the CIA.  Hmmm.  Cynthia actually has some pretty interesting soliloquy’s about politics which have quite an insightful take that could be the truth.  She is one smart girl. 

Her voice is captivating.  Not only is she acting and performing on stage she is also the narrator.  Her voice booms through out the space.  Her cadence is mesmerizing. 

She sings, she dances.   She uses video cameras and projects the images live, and sometimes not live on a screen that has been divided into four parts.  When she plays on the piano we watch her performing above.  At one point she in the piano looking at us and singing through a pretaped piece. 

Costumes must be recognized here.  My favorite part is her headgear.  A tambourine between some other stuff.  Long skirts layered over one another.  She also has a black lined in moustache and small dots drawn underneath her eyes.  It is quite an outfit.

Her antics reminded me of the lead singer of the Eels, Mark Oliver Everett.  The different is the Eels is a concert with some performance art added in where Cynthia is performance art with music as an added bonus.

We all had interesting reactions but not one of us could not be impressed with the whole performance.  Genius?  Perhaps.  I’d be interested to learn about where she came from.  My guess is she either came from a simple middle class suburban life or something totally extreme. 

Glad I went.  A real piece of work…no pun intended.