Now for something completely different! Why Cross Chaos is a new work brought to Western Oregon University by award winning, Portland based, Jessica Wallenfels who, in collaboration with the students of Western Oregon University has created an original thriller/comedy based on Louis Feuillade’s 1915-16 film Les Vampires. A director/choreographer and performer Wallenfels has an extensive background including choreography for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Portland Center Stage. Wallenfels’ company, ‘Many Hats Collaborations’ received Portland’s Drammy Award, ‘Outstanding Production’ for their joint production with Coho Productions of The Snowstorm.
Set in 2027, Why Cross Chaos moves between three worlds; the world of a refugee camp for immigration criminals; the world of escape, ‘the primal’ in which characters interact with the Les Vampires film world; and an in between world resembling purgatory. As one of the lines in the play states: ‘The primal gives you the opportunity to be anyone other than yourself’. The set by Scott Grim is Brechtian, raw, architecturally exciting and reminiscent of German Expressionism where shadows, sharp angles and focused light create a dreamlike world where creatures of our fantasies and fears exist.
The dynamic physical life of the show draws on ‘performances of consensual aggression’ (Wallenfels) first displayed by Paris street gangs called ‘Apaches’ who danced with such viciousness towards each other. This ferocity is displayed dances in where couples challenge each other in a set of moves that alternate between a ball room step and throws, slaps, hair pulling and powerful moves to dominate each other. The couples are ‘gender fluid’, in combinations of women and women, men and women, men and men, resisting role stereotypes in dance where men lead, and women follow.
Students—Selena Moreno, Stephanie Kintz, Kevin Huang, and Nicholas Hulscher—shared their experiences working on Why Cross Chaos; ‘the story is buckwild’, ‘very physical’, and ‘it’s challenging to perform such physical dance’. Wallenfels, the ensemble cast, and designers have created a powerful, dynamic and thought provoking production, ‘Why cause chaos? Sometimes you have to in order to get the job done’. This is a brand new experimental performance created by one of Oregon’s most talented and original thinkers, don’t miss it!
WHY CROSS CHAOS INSPIRED BY LOUIS FEUILLADE’S SERIAL FILM, LES VAMPIRES
Jessica Wallenfels and cast
May 30 – June 2 @ 7:30 pm. NB.
Rice Auditorium at WOU,
345 Monmouth Ave. N. in Monmouth.
Price: $14, $10 for WOU employees
and seniors and $8 for WOU students
The June 1 presentation will have an American Sign Language interpreter
Photo above: Why Cross Chaos, Phoebe Thompson (left) and Chynna Shurts.