Last Friday was the opening night of On the Island
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
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
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
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
Political Oppression 'On the Island.'"in the October 3rd issue
of the Current.
Friday - Sunday, 8 pm
$9 - $12
108 Blue Star