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Review: It Might Be Okay

By Nicholas Korn · May 28th, 2009 · Fringe

The trick and trouble of creating a long-form program from a series of theater exercises is that the narrative material centers on the actor as content. This means that what's being presented has already been lived and is therefore not living onstage at the moment.

It is storytelling, which is the antithesis of theater: relating the past, rather than creating a present. And this is what makes It Might Be Okay just OK. But this is the Fringe — so it is OK. Maybe.

The program establishes that the cast has developed a series of segments exploring the myth of being a young American in the present century. What’s offered are stories you would expect from a collective of attractive college-age performers: the deaths of grandparents, the breakup of young-love relationships, acknowledgment of a parent’s wisdom, being made to look foolish in middle school.

The feelings are real enough, but they seem to weigh heavier with the cast than the audience, due in large part to the emotions being worn after the fact.

The show opens and ends with a familiar refrain from a famous Nirvana song (actually, a Tori Amos song), and what parades in between is a series of slam-style poems, personal anecdotes, some humorous break dancing and a few inspired physical moments such as a rainstorm of water bottles that shower down on a cast member holding a clear umbrella.

What’s missing most from It Might Be Okay is personality. There’s young ambition and attitude and anger against the status quo, but this is an ensemble piece that allows its members to meld too completely. There’s the underlying argument for individuality, but the very shape of the show doesn’t champion its own cause.

One actor identifies his name outright; the rest are left to be anonymous. I’ve never left a show realizing how important it is for a character to have a name onstage.

That might be this show’s singular gap. It wants to tell the myth of being young in our country, in our time. But a myth is a story that centers on a name.

Performed at Gabriel's Corner through June 6. See performance dates and preview here.


 
 
 
 

 

 
05.29.2009 at 01:18 Reply
I think you're completely wrong. I saw it and it was an unbiased look at America from the eyes of nine young people of America. The minute you add characters to that, you begin to sway the story. Myth centers on a name, but looking at myths from the outside in requires distance and time.

 

05.30.2009 at 11:44
Absolutely! I am not even sure if this reviewer watched the piece. I've seen it twice and I still cannot stop thinking about it.

 

05.30.2009 at 11:40 Reply
It Might Be Okay... Story telling is how we relate as human beings and that IS theatre. It Might Be Okay resonates, entertains, and opens doors on multiple levels. Literally in some cases as ladders and stairways take us in and out of our own conscious pasts as well as those of the highly talented and energized cast of CCM students. Woven stories and personal, sometimes countering, viewpoints bind and bloom into transcendent realizations that leave the audience member with nothing left but hope and love. And that is what this piece is searching for in us- and those on stage. Sadistic teachers, denim blue jeans, break dancing, modern dance, a game of duck duck goose, guitars, McDonalds, religion, spirituality, and war are symbolized as the glue that holds us together- and eventually defines our culture whether we like it or not. It takes a certain amount of introspection as well as inner courage to explore who we really are as a collective between two vast oceans. An empirical examination of the decisions we make as individuals and also as a nation wraps its way through multiple vignettes of dissenting American voices. Whether these decisions are truly beneficial for all of us or just for immediate self gratification cannot be brushed aside in this piece. Black and white judgment is minimal as the problems we face as a culture are proven to go much deeper than simple blame and guilt further creating division, which I think the narrative successfully veers from. The haunting allegory of September 11th throughout It Might Be Okay serves two purposes: First, to show that we, as Americans, do indeed share a culture and a common bond, and second, if we fail to recognize we exist on this planet as one piece of an immense sociological ecosystem, then we find ourselves where we are now- in a world of chaotic denial and extreme ethnocentricity. Kevin Maku's monologue illustrates this in an homage to the live stage performances of Jim Morrison's Uknown Soldier. It Might Be Okay is far from gloomy. You will find yourself laughing on many occasions as it is impossible not to relate to our shared humanity. How such an incredibly beautiful and thought provoking piece of important theatre can convey so much in less than an hour is nothing short of miraculous. My hats go off to the cast led by Julianna Bloodgood. Keep making theatre that matters!

 

05.30.2009 at 11:54 Reply
“Theatre is the branch of the performing arts defined by Bernard Beckerman as what ‘occurs when one or more persons, isolated in time and/or space, present themselves to another or others.’ By this broad definition, theatre has existed since the dawn of man, as a result of human tendency for storytelling. Since its inception, theatre has come to take on many forms, utilizing speech, gesture, music, dance, and spectacle, combining the other performing arts, often as well as the visual arts, into a single artistic form.” If this is the definition of theatre, I can’t help but feel that It Might Be Okay is a great success as a theatrical production. I think this review is completely wrong. Not only is the essence theatre misunderstood but it seems that the entire point of the piece has escaped the author. From my perspective on opening night, the cast of It Might Be Okay triumphed in bringing the audience into their collective experiences of being a youth in America today -pretty complicated and horrifying at times- resulting in a strong emotional response ending in a standing ovation. I don’t see how you could not live through these stories. The cast was tightly nit, yet individual. And the unison style of movement struck me more as a comment on society and the “sameness” that seems to take precedence over culture. The performers revolted against this demanding their rituals back and their languages back. Part of the fascination of this piece was what they created in the space, taking an empty stage and littering it with plastic and garbage creating a landscape in which their story could take place. No offense to the gentleman who wrote the article, but perhaps CityBeat can give us reviewers who at least understand theatre. Also, it was Tori Amos who covered the Nirvana song. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smells_Like_Teen_Spirit

 

 
 
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