The Gas Heart

The Gas Heart

 A Dada piece of Historical Importance.

 Irrational Robot Bureau presented The Gas Heart by Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the Dada movement. After World War I, he was strongly advised by the Bucharest police to get out of town, so he moved to Paris and switched from writing in his native Romanian to writing in French.    Presented in English, The Gas Heart was translated from the French by the director, Adrian D. Cameron.   

 The Movement of Dada was a reaction to the brutality and irrationality of World War I.  Technology had broken down the traditional rationale about how to conduct and win a war, with catastrophic effects felt not only in warfare but also in social life, music, physics, politics and even in fashion.   In addition,   Jung and Freud’s theories about the unconscious motivations of human beings had cast doubt on the received wisdom of the enlightenment concept of human rationality.  With youthful rejection of tradition, Dada was anti-rational, anti-formal limitations of art and indeed anti-art.     

 The director, Adrian D. Cameron, took the theme of the bewildering impact of new techonology and updated it.   Creatively, he chose the digital/computer revolution, as the backdrop of the play and transformed the actors into robots.  In the same way that the products of the industrial revolution of the 19th Century ( e.g. railroads) transformed how war was conducted in 1914, so too has the digital revolution drastically changed the way war is conducted in contemporary society ( cyber warfare).  It has also transformed just about every other aspect of life, in a way that not even Bill Gates could have predicted in 1980. 

 Visually,  the geometric set, also by Adrian D. Cameron,  was very stark, in black, white and grey which suggested the sterilization of human emotions caused by digitalization.  Oddly, it was not uneasy on the eyes-quite the opposite.   Commenting on the “action” on stage was an eerie sound track with electronic sounding music and a voice right out of the best sci-fi movies just to make the actors and the audience feel that big brother was indeed watching. The acting was strong, especially by Robert Riedl, and the physicality of the actors was impressive,  however,  in my opinion the lines were delivered in such a slow pace that the production suffered

 In terms of Cultural History, Dada was not only an important influence on theatre; it also  influenced many aspect of 20th Century visual and performing arts such as Surrealism, Cubism, and Performance Art.  For this reason alone, it is worth seeing. 

 THE GAS HEART by Tristan Tzara,  Translated and Directed by Adrian D. Cameron.  Irrational Robot Bureau.St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 15 Roy St. Lower Queen Anne.  Seattle, 98109 August 9 and 10 @ 7:30 | August 13 @ 7:30 | August 17 @ 2:00 and 7:30 | August 23 and 24 @ 7:30 Tickets are $10 at the door. Tues. 8/13 and Sat. 8/17 matinee performances are Pay What You Can.

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