All wet, a bit cracked

July 24, 2008|By Erich Wagner | Erich Wagner,Sun reporter

Nurseryland is in chaos. President Humpty Dumpty has suffered a great fall,and the people of the rhyming country can't reassemble him. Now, they must elect a new commander-in-chief.

This is the concept behind Mother Goosed: The Nurseyland Campaign Trails, from Baltimore-based performance art troupe Fluid Movement. The production, with performances this weekend at Riverside Park and next weekend at Patterson Park, pits a red team of swimmers, led by Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, against a blue team, headed by Jack and Jill, in a zany battle to fill the power vacuum left by the broken egg.

The performers of Fluid Movement aren't the only folks parodying this year's presidential election campaign - Jon Stewart is a master at it, and the New Yorker last week weighed in with its satirical cover of the Obamas terrorizing the White House. But Fluid Movement does it in a kitschy way with just a hint of a Baltimore accent.

It's not hard to figure out Sen. John McCain's surrogate when Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater leads a routine set to John Philip Sousa's "Washington Post" march. The children bickering in the school yard? Hint-hint: They battled for the Democratic nomination.

The ballet is silly for silliness' sake. "We just make fun of the election, and make it not so serious," said Sarah Hughes, 20, one of a handful of directors participating in the production.

The humor in the production is broad, like that of the Marx brothers or any Vaudeville show, said Valarie Perez-Schere, a nine-year veteran and co-director of Mother Goosed's opening scene.

"Since we're in a big park at a big pool, everything has got to be really big in order for it to read with the audience," Perez-Schere said. "There are little jokes, too, but it's easy for people to miss them."

Fluid Movement was founded in 1998 by Keri Burneston with the purpose of staging accessible performance art in the area, as well as offering a forum for people interested in performing, regardless of their experience and training.

"We make everything ourselves, including the costumes, the props and the sets," said Stacey Mink, a board member. "It's people coming together for a common goal."

The ballet features about 70 participants, ranging in age from teenagers to 50-somethings, who take part in any of a number of six-minute scenes. Short narrative segues are performed by Nurseryland's talking heads, Little Miss Muffet and Wee Willie Winkie. Involvement in Fluid Movement is contagious.

Hughes said she joined the group as a teenager along with her two cousins after her aunt, who had been a member for five years, persuaded them.

"People have their friends and co-workers come to watch, and then those people come back next year wanting to join the production," Perez-Schere said.

Fluid Movement is no stranger to hot topics. In its 2006 production, It's a Wonderful Species, it tackled the evolution debate. "With such serious issues, it's easy to get fatigued, tune out and watch American Idol," Perez-Schere said. "Satire livens up the process and allows people who aren't news junkies to be involved and have something to say."

erich.wagner@baltsun.com

Fluid Movement will perform "Mother Goosed: The Nurseryland Campaign Tales" at Riverside Park at 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, and at Patterson Park at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Aug. 2 and Aug. 3. Tickets are $9 except for Saturday's Riverside show, which is a benefit and will cost $25. To buy tickets, or for more information, go to fluidmovement.org.

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