Omaha Magic Theatre's 'Body Leaks' is a study of self-censorship

April 05, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

Self-censorship, a negative cerebral habit that can damage the psyche, has been practiced by the human race since the beginning of time. Carried from one generation to another, these subconscious doubts that fill us with misgivings are the body leaks of the mind.

Who are we? What are we? Why are we? Why do we do the things we do? These are the questions posed in the Omaha Magic Theatre's new avant-garde, experimental work, "Body Leaks," on stage tonight through Sunday at Towson State University.

Presented by the TSU/Theatre Project Experimental Theatre Festival and the Brave New Works contemporary performance series, the 80-minute multimedia production combines elements of theater, dance, original music, sculpture and poetry.

The piece highlights performances by Jo Ann Schmidman, who founded the nationally acclaimed 20-year-old company, and Megan Terry, a feminist playwright and company member since 1974. Schmidman and Terry co-authored the script with the group's visual artist and associate performer, Sora Kimberlain. Other company members are Robert Gilmer and Erin Kate Whitcomb.

"This is a thinking piece, an emotional piece, that explores feelings," says Schmidman, who directed and choreographed the play.

"This is new-form performance," Schmidman says, "not linear-form theater. The subject matters are personal. We talk and relate directly to the audience. We examine how we don't tell each other enough how we feel. And how we don't say something we want to say or should say."

"That's self-censorship," Terry says. "If people are into self-censorship and they do not know they're doing it, that is what we call body leaks. People then allow outside censorship to take over: the government, the media, the advertisers. We are particularly concerned how censorship affects free speech and the arts."

A new lighting system invented by Schmidman features several 9-foot florescent tubes creating colorful poles of brilliant orchids, reds and blues. New overhead projectors animate the gigantic human and environmental images flashed on the back wall of the stage.

Actors create blurred imagery behind thick glass blocks. Actors also take turns dropping their characterizations to play the three keyboards, drums and percussion instruments located on the stage. They also work the lights and carry on environmental props in full view of the audience.

"The audience accepts this art form because it comes without frills," Schmidman says. "Our form is presentational . . . transformational. We use stream of consciousness word and movement . . . continually changing characters to probe the condition of human existence. We are the magic theater of the mind."

Terry laughs. "Thinking is fun. If you like to think, come out to our


The Omaha Magic Theatre performances of "Body Leaks" are at 8 tonight and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Fine Arts Center's Mainstage Theater, Osler and Cross Campus drives, Towson. Tickets are $10, $12, $16. For reservations and further information, call the TSU box office at 830-ARTS.

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