I, Moderator: Theater Grottesco’s 30th Anniversary Panel Discussion

Casey St. Charnez - March 25, 2013

"The Grottesco Ensemble rekindles interest in live performance by juxtaposing classical and modern theatrical styles with a daring, poetic research of culture and imagination..."

On behalf of Theater Grottesco, Pamela Gregg Flax phoned me and said, “Hello, This is Pamela Gregg Flax on behalf of Theater Grottesco.” I’d been expecting her call, and replied, “You could have stopped at Pamela, I know who you are.” She laughed, and I took that as a very good sign.

She wanted to discuss the wherewithal of my volunteer role as “Moderator” for TG’s new production, “Exquisite Absurdity,” an anthology of excerpts from the company’s productions over the last 30 years. Specifically, the invite was for the 4 p.m. matinee this Easter Sunday.

Basically, I’m supposed to come on 10 minutes after the two-hour show, allowing time for the cast to change clothes and return to field observations from however many audience members have elected to stay.

“We’re not looking for reviews,” she cautioned. “Nourishing conversation is what it’s about.” Using language which she says derives from her profession as a doctor of Oriental medicine, the idea is “to have a generative conversation about the work [the audience has] seen, expansive in the sense that the artists want to hear about what they saw in the work and how it affected them. When the conversation is rooted in what the audience has actually experienced in the performance, it's been a rich discussion.”

TG clearly is very serious about its work. On its website, its mission statement asserts the company’s fervent desire “to create a new kind of performance that is visual, explosive and full of surprise. The Grottesco Ensemble rekindles interest in live performance by juxtaposing classical and modern theatrical styles with a daring, poetic research of culture and imagination, giving voice to the marginal elements of our contemporary society, and taking audiences to the brink of emotional wonder and soulful reflection.”

Whew! No Neil Simon or Agatha Christie here, that’s for sure.

Instead, theatergoers (through April 7) will witness a significant retrospective of scenes from “The Insomniacs” (1983), “Fortune” (1987), “The Richest Deadman Alive!” (1988), “The Angels’ Cradle” (1994), “This is Life as We Know It…” (2001) and “A Dream Inside Another” (2005), along with several shorter pieces.

“Fortune” (1987)

“This is Life as We Know It…” (2001)

This performing arts institution, underwritten by everyone from the Santa Fe Lodgers Tax to the National Endowment for the Arts, started in Paris in 1983, moved to New York and Detroit in 1985, and then to Santa Fe in 1996.

Artistic director John Flax and co-founder Elizabeth Wiseman have staged “Exquisite Absurdity” at the Center for Contemporary Arts’ Munoz-Waxman Gallery. Tickets are a nice flat $25 general admission, $10 for students with ID, and better still, Thursday performances are pay-what-you-wish. More info at 505-474-8400.

So, yes, I will be there Easter. It’s just that there’s this one major thing daunting me about this moderator gig: A current press release says TG seeks out their guest commentators from a pool of “­Santa Fe’s most profound thinkers of art and society.”  

Geez, I’m wondering, how could that austere group possibly include little me? I mean, really? Really?? Me???

I guess we’ll find out Sunday.

Whew!: Part Two.