Rotozaza: Five in the Morning

Fuse Box

April 24, 25 & 26, 2008
by Jessica Del Vecchio

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      Performance still from Five in the morning
      Created and produced by Rotozaza (London)
      Presented as part of the Fuse Box Festival 2008
      Photograph by Ant Hampton

      Presented by London-based performance troupe Rotozaza, Five in the Morning transforms the Salvage Vanguard Theater into Aquaworld, “an enormous indoor leisure-pool complex.” This, however, is no ordinary water park. Its guests arrive in the blue light of dawn via unmarked planes and once there, it becomes chillingly apparent, they cannot escape Aquaworld or its operations. The three swimsuit-clad guests we observe are compelled to follow instructions dictated by eerie, ethereal voices of “lifeguards” broadcast over the PA system. The characters, charming in their earnest attempts to carry out the creepily calm commands, elicit a combination of sympathy and laughter from audience members. As the tasks become more disturbing, however, the guests’ plight reveals a darker side of power and control, raising questions about limitations of trust. When the trio struggles to please the lifeguards by creating a dangerous and precarious “human tower,” we start to sense our own spectatorial complicity in Aquaworld’s proceedings. Indeed, near the end of the piece, one of the women—referred to only as “the small one”—tells us sadly, “I am here for you. That’s all you need to know about me.” Ultimately, this complex and compelling performance critiques the human compulsion to perform our identities, again and again, for real and imagined audiences.

      Jessica Del Vecchio completed her M.A. in Performance as Public Practice at The University of Texas at Austin this spring, and will return to New York City this summer to pursue a Ph.D. in Theatre at the City University of New York. Her research interests include queer and feminist theory, contemporary avant-garde performance and American popular culture.

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