In addition to "Red Flags," a nonverbal piece of physical theater called "The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century)" will take the stage in December, while an idiosyncratic version of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" will be performed in late spring. What all four productions have in common is an attempt to redefine the relationship between the performers and the audience.
Consider Lerman, for instance. "Healing Wars," the piece she's currently working on, spans a 150-year period from the U.S. Civil War to the recent conflict in Iraq.
Lerman is developing the piece through a series of residencies in Baltimore, at Harvard University and in a small Russian town near Moscow — and it's clear that responses from this diverse group of audience members are having a profound effect on the final shape that the dance will take.
The choreographer hopes to have a finished, evening-length work that will debut in the spring of 2014.
During two open workshops at the converted church that currently is the home for Mobtown Ballroom, visitors attending Lerman's workshops traveled from room to room. Each space encompassed different dancers trapped in their individual historical moments.
In a closet-sized anteroom off the main stage, audience members crowded around George Hirsch. He was portraying a veteran recently returned from Iraq. As Hirsch twisted and stretched his limbs, his face pained, words such as "IEDs" (improvised explosive devices) and "impact" were projected.
When the piece was over, audience members walked into the ballroom to watch Ted Johnson in the role of a wounded Civil War soldier perform a solo dance to the words of a Walt Whitman poem, "The Wound-Dresser." The squares on a white wall tore the soldier's shadow into fragments.
"When we had our residency in Russia," Lerman said, "audiences seemed to like the journey nature of the performance given the subject matter, which was hard and deep and sad. One of the questions I'm resolving is how disruptive we can be.
"We're going to find out."
Baltimore Performance Kitchen
Tickets to the three remaining shows in the inaugural season are free; donations are accepted. Go to performancekitchen.org or call 443-690-4053.
"Red Flags": Runs through Nov. 4 at Arena Players, 801 McCulloh St. A multimedia work that invites audiences to identify their own red flags.
"The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century)": Runs Dec. 5-16 at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. Physically inventive production by Double Edge Theatre was inspired by painter Marc Chagall.
"Romeo and Juliet": Runs June 19-30 at Area 405, 405 N. Oliver St. Professional actors mix with Station North residents in a vehicle for exploring neighborhood tensions. Text NIGHTLIFE to 70701 to sign up for Baltimore Sun nightlife and music text alerts