Life and Times episodes 3&4 – Nature Theater of Oklahoma
“The Great Nature Theater of Oklahoma is calling you! It’s calling today only! If you miss this opportunity, there will never be another!” – Franz Kafka, Amerika
The experimental theatre group The Nature Theater of Oklahoma does not leave room for hesitant fans: You love them or you hate them, there is nothing in between.
And uhm, I LOVE THEM.
Yesterday evening I hurried to Brussels – with my heavy luggage and an empty stomach – to enjoy the third and fourth episodes of The Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Life and Times. The concept is simple and genius: The text of Life and Times is a telephone conversation with one of the actresses of the company (Kristin Worrall) about her life story. They haven’t left anything out and they didn’t add anything either (boy those Americans sure say “like” a lot). The text is an exact copy of what Kristin has said on the phone and it turns out that she has led an extremely normal, trivial American life in the suburbs. You will wonder: than how in the world did they manage to create something interesting and creative out of this material?
The answer is ABSURDISM
Each episode is brought in a different genre and a different outfit: the former episodes were brought in a disco, musical, and dance performance kind of way, but this time they have chosen to act and dress as if they were performing The Mouse Trap by Agatha Christie. The actors are constantly suspicious while narrating the adolescent years of Kristin – who is called Julie in the performance – and respond with cries of surprise to statements about having your first period or going to the prom.
The contrast between a British detective story and the typical American high school life is hilarious, fresh, and innovative and – luckily – the disco/musical of the first two episodes wasn’t left out entirely. Two musical numbers sneaked into the British country house setting and made sure you weren’t falling into sleep or losing interest.
I can totally see why other people would not enjoy this kind of performance because you need to be at least a little bit crazy yourself to be able to emerge in it. A good knowledge of the English language is also a must because you miss so much when you have to read the subtitles which are projected above the scene.
Episodes 3 and 4 have the advantage of dealing with the adolescent years: years in which first kisses are exchanged, fashion statements are made, God and the church are traded for parties and booze, school is boring, music is cool, and depression is secretly desired. It’s SO recognizable. My Adolescent years are still fresh in my memory and even though I grew up in a small village in Belgium instead of suburban America, I can totally relate.
I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do next…. (hopefully the years after adolescence were funny too).
Below you can find the website of the company and their vimeo page (yay, they have video’s!).
Move your ass to the theatre and experience an evening full of unconventional, but o so hilarious and genius art.
tonight (29 sept.) and tomorrow (30 sept.): Kaaitheater, Brussels
3-7 october: De Singel, Antwerp
p.s. Take a friend who is into absurd humor! I did, we laughed out loud.
p.p.s. I hope you’re not scared of aliens…