SuttonBeresCuller’s To Be Determined Just as Vague as Its Title

by on September 16, 2011

Photo credit: SuttonBeresCuller, via On the Boards.

SBC TBD @ OTB? OMG WTF LOL.

This summer, SuttonBeresCuller’s red straps Mad Homes installation was playful and effortless, interactive and fun. The straps forced you to maneuver within the home, participate with the art in its environment, and made you reconsider the house as a space. Last night, SuttonBeresCuller opened their “Craigslist-inspired-performance-art-nightclub-lounge-act-art-extravaganza” to a packed house at On the Boards ($15, through Sunday the 18th, entrance 7-9pm). This was not so effortless.

Now, I can only speak for Thursday’s performance (“each evening has its own particular flavor and flow”), and I don’t wish to say too much about ART (no spoilers!). But a few thoughts.

A lot of To Be Determined is very: “Why can’t the theatre always be like this? Why can’t there always be trailer-trash makeovers and a swing in the theatre? Why can’t the theatre be an exclusive lounge and a dance club and a hangout spot and a place for artists to congregate and meet and make merry and share ideas?” And that’s a valid point. But.

But the transformation of On the Boards into Stompy’s (dance club on the first floor, lounge on the second, with piano player, lobby stage, and mainstage) was unexpectedly underwhelming. Why not take the idea further, with art on the third floor, in the admin space too, or in any of the restrooms? I mean, SBC themselves discussed bathroom art in the interview with Nancy Guppy that’s right there, in the program.

Meanwhile, in the lounge area, there’s the problem of a lot of chairs and tables, but very few guests sitting at them, even at the end of the night. The nature of the installation allows one to be as engaged (or as detached) as they wish with the art. It’s easy to not wander or participate in the art at all and just be there to drink–$5 Jameson/Makers Mark!–and mingle with arts folk.

If you saw our Twitter feed last night, you know that I did like the precariously perched big hollow garbage sphere and the model plane crashed into a pile of mainstage seats. But the Craigslist-sourced nature of the other artists involved means that there’s lots of actors acting sooo flustered and other acts you wouldn’t pay to see otherwise. No judgment, just sayin': an acoustic guitarist, a white boy freestyle rapper, a bellydancer, a magician. (It’s an illusion, Michael.)

Ultimately, it’s not so exciting to ride in an artspace elevator, even as a quote-unquote VIP. Or maybe you just go with it. You wander around, you do one thing, then another. You drink grey lemonade made by the guido Italian clown. That is another option.

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