33 Fainting Spells

November 10, 2000

November performance of 33 Fainting Spells’ September, September.
Photo by Peter Mumford courtesy 33 Fainting Spells

33 Fainting Spells

The Moore Theatre
Seattle, Washington

November 10�11, 2000

Reviewed by Gigi Berardi

33 Fainting Spells�s newest work, September, September, is a fast-paced showcase of fresh, clean and deliberate movement�well rehearsed, but with a welcome edge of spontaneity. The piece features prose by Dayna Hanson, a recipient of the Loren D. Milliman Scholarship for short fiction, that is at least as powerful as its movement.

September, September is a co-creation of artistic directors Dayna Hanson and Gaelen Hanson, creator-performer Peggy Piacenza and collaborating performer John Dixon. The storyline is simple: four friends gather at summer�s end to reminisce. If memory makes kings and queens of us all, how difficult, then, to give up our reign. Therein is the dramatic premise for the piece.

To amuse themselves, the friends play party games such as cards and charades. Scenes are varied in their emotional range�from boredom to giddiness, from relaxation to wild dramatization.

The atmosphere of this piece becomes virtually a character itself, created with the sotto voce of a lyrical recording or the chirping of a cicada as the bright light of summer fast fades. The narration, in accented English, is rich with detail, just short of cliché: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift,” the narrator drones.

The soundtrack and score by Kyle Hanson are inventive, the lyrics often sobering. The percussive stomps, taps and lyrical gestures mimic the narration, whether it be a tennis game or a story of a bucking bronco, with wild solos or calm ensembles, squared to the audience or to the backstage.

The dancers move deftly�even in their rose garb (based on drawings from the work of Anne Siems and designed and constructed by K.D. Schill). Using whatever props they can find�chairs, tables, footstools or cut-out clouds lit by Lara Wilder�all are provocative.

The piece also represents a game for the audience, as it tries to determine the source and extent of familiarity among the characters. And so, facing summer�s end, the four friends amuse themselves in a kind of cabaret with its own sense of humor: a duet with a slippery fish or a conversation with the great beyond. This is a piece that touches all the senses�including smell, as cooking oil smolders onstage.

When do you have permission not to reminisce but to forget? The dancers answer that question at the end, by walking away from the set, through the audience.