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Of Blood and Dirt and Really Good Theatre

Guys, I saw Dionysus yesterday.

I met with the Muses.

I looked the Gods in the face and they pounded their chests right back at me.

Of Blood and Dirt, an adaptation of Homer’s Iliad, directed by Jeremy Ohringer closed tonight. I can truthfully say it was one of the best theatrical experiences I have ever been privy to. The specificity, the attention to detail, the care, the intelligence and commitment of every single person in that room added up to 45 minutes of intense storytelling.

The first moment of the play we were made accomplices. We signed a contract with the ensemble that we would be there, ready and willing to listen and witness. Throughout the piece we were forced to keep up with our promise to witness, specifically through the use of eye contact. Eye contact was paramount– when it was used and when it wasn’t. In a moment inspired by Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment, the ensemble came into a line downstage and looked at us. Silent. Still. Accusatory and inviting. Were you listening? Did you get it? Do you see? And what will you do now?

The piece was scored like a brilliant symphony, each intake of breath or stomp was in time with the others, in time with the story. Every moment had been thought out and approached with care. Every word was spoken with clarity. Clearly the ensemble had worked hard to come to a communal understanding of the purpose of the event as a whole. Did I understand it the way they meant me to? Maybe not. But I felt it. In my bones. When Emily Brown, one of the ensemble members, stepped up onto the platforms and called out that the Muses were with us, I was sure she was right. There was vibration in the room. The string was pulled taught and the Gods were there.

Each member of the ensemble gave stunning performances. The actors switched between characters with ease, committing fully to each new part of the story. Jeremy seemed to have encouraged each member of the ensemble to take full responsibility for the sanctity of the story. He handled the epic scope of The Iliad deftly. There was not a single thing that took me out of the experience. On top of the excellent direction, the stunning use of lighting and simple but effective stage design rounded out the whole experience.

To the ensemble and crew of Of Blood and Dirt, thank you for your commitment and sharp work. Thank you for bringing us so far away from the world of realism, yet keeping us firmly grounded in the realistic. Thank you for saying yes to the theatrical event and not shying away from it. Thank you for being brave and wonderful.

Also, can I have those Barn Wedding lights? Thanks.

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