Last Friday was the opening night of On the Island
written and performed by S.T. Shimi at Jump-Start Theater. While sitting in the audience I could not stop staring at the long vertical tissu (a piece of woven material used for cloths) suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the stage.
The lights dimmed. I felt anxious for the next move. The impression of a woman's body could be seen behind the tissu; the cloth was a cage smothering a pair of legs, arms, and a fragile head with long, ebony hair. Billy Munoz' lighting design seduced my eyes — a faint touch of purple, lurid shades of green, and a small but crucial hint of red hypnotized me into watching this elegant human body move and shift on stage. The cloth cut into the blackness of the background like a cloud streak in the midnight sky. The muscles and bones gliding on stage seemed much more than just a dance. It was a tango of allurement. Munoz trained audience members to watch every flick of an ankle, fling of an arm, and corkscrew of the torso in colors evocative of the deep black sea. Paul Harford's musical score of muted harps and ocean cacophonies slowly rubbed the audiences eardrums. The ambient soundtrack — quick primal drums and slow echoing distant compositions that would melt a bed of coal into a pool of oil — also embedded itself into the performance.
The story details the imprisonment and torture of a female artist imprisoned on an island. This dramatic play relates to the U.S. mistreatment of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other locations. In this brutal play, international conventions and human rights, are clearly thrown out the window. Island
serves as a reminder that all acts of cruelty towards prisoners should not be forgotten.
Unattached from society leads the woman to believe that she has become susceptible to insomnia and hallucinations. In her squirm-inducing soliloquy of suffering, she finds a way to remember her vivid past life, before the hours and minutes on the island. She actually embraces the narrow space of her confinement once she realizes there is no escape. The character's mighty spirit, although bruised and bloodied, holds on to hope till the end.
I feel this dramatic one-woman show should be seen by all. The talents at Jump-Start allow us to assemble, discuss, and reflect topics happening in our world today.
For a conversation with Shimi about On the Island
read "Exploring Political Oppression 'On the Island.'"in the October 3rd issue of the Current
Friday - Sunday, 8 pm
$9 - $12 Jump-Start Theater
108 Blue Star