'Body Leaks' centers on self-censorship

April 05, 1991|By Mike Giuliano

'Body Leaks' Where: Fine Arts Center Mainstage Theatre, Towson State University.

When: Tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.

Tickets: $16 tonight and Saturday, $12 Sunday; half-price for students, seniors, artists, TSU faculty, staff and alumni.

Call: 830-ARTS.

** 1/2 Ideas about self-censorship don't trickle from Omaha Magic Theatre's "Body Leaks," they pour out. Co-presented by the Theatre Project and Towson State University (at TSU), this multimedia piece often isn't very satisfying, but its moral fervor and savvy staging carry it along.

"Body Leaks" is not a structured play so much as an imagistic and ideological collage in which the enacted snippets are more than scatter noise in the universe and less than full-fledged scenes. These snippets mostly deal with how censorship is internalized.

Parents are shown to be outside authority figures who tell young ladies not to walk like cowboys, for instance, and as a result the young ladies will suppress whatever urges they might have to behave in an "un-ladylike" manner. This psychic makeup finds expression in other kinds of makeup, as in the injunction: "You have to put lipstick on your mouth so that a man can find it."

"Body Leaks" is rarely that cogent, however, with its uncertain mix epitomized by the metaphoric mileage gotten out of the play's title. We're told how a "body leak" can become a flood, how a "body leak" should be milked for all its worth, and so on, but the general message not to hold back is diluted by indulging in so many imagistic riffs.

Collaboratively written by feminist playwright Megan Terry (author of the 1966 rock musical "Viet Rock"), director Jo Ann RTC Schmidman (founder in 1968 of Omaha Magic Theatre) and visual artist Sora Kimberlain, "Body Leaks" has them acting beside Robert N. Gilmer and Erin-Kate Whitcomb.

The pleasures of the piece come from watching how deftly they work together on a set where, true to the thematics, there is nowhere to hide. Theirs is an exposed-systems stagecraft stemming as much from an aesthetic decision as an economic one. If a performer goes behind a glass brick wall, her blurry form can still be seen. If a performer goes behind a scrim as if to hide, she will be silhouetted and perhaps come out screaming. The performers visibly control the spotlights and two overhead slide projectors. And there is even a metal trash can that is banged on like a drum in what amounts to yet another moralizing snippet: waste not, want not.

"Body Leaks" is part of an experimental theater festival. Also at Towson this weekend is a one-woman show by New York performer Cora Hook, "The Girl Who Swallowed Her Sister," about the relationship between twin sisters. Ms. Hook performs at 3 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.

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