Know Theatre has been a Cincinnati leader in redefining theatre during Covid. They jumped in the pool of streaming theatre during June’s Fringe and discovered with audiences what techniques worked better than others. They are diving into creative problem solving in how we make and experience the art. Streaming theatre is a hybrid—theatre on a screen. The goal is to connect with an audience to may us think, feel, move, laugh and know that we are part of a greater whole—humanity. Running from the tide is not an option for these artists.
“Feast” is a clever, current script (Megan Gogerty), with wise intention and direction (Tamara Winters) and a masterful performance by Jennifer Joplin. Know delivers a timely ancient tale of Beowolf, told through the eyes and heart of dragon Grendel’s mother. Joplin crashes through the screen and into your room in one of the best Covid-era offerings, sharing her armored scales and soft underbelly.
The solo performer acknowledges the screen, helping to wryly personalize the experience “Greetings, I have appeared…I can speak in this little box and all of humanity can behold me.” What we behold is a gracious regal woman, centuries old, with earned wisdom, patience, and rage who invited us here “to right a wrong.” She is a fiercely loving mother who’s “love takes many forms, but not all pleasant or healthy or wise.”
The character requires the performer to have an ocean of skill, to ride the giant waves and subtle drip drip drip of unleashing emotions. Joplin has it. She shows the heart of a dragon, and when Grendel is humiliated by Beowulf, she flips the switch. The suburban housewife is stirred and she methodically plots her revenge on pompous Beowulf, the hero of men. She knows “the secret of the strong man is that he is weak” and weighs his vulnerabilities.
Grendel’s mother knows the sacrifices she must make to bring down “the age of the fathers.”
She is alive in that screen—and silently pulls in the content from the other screens we watch and carry in our pockets. Clever writing, Ms. Gogerty.
Kudos to the team: Director Winters, Designers Andrew Hungerford (set and lighting), Noelle Wedig-Johnston (costume), and Doug Borntrager (sound). While the space and high def camera angle do not change, the lighting and sound do and add depth and effects to her “mother of the groom” attire.
Much like Grendel’s mother, Know is ensuring that stories are told through a new lens. Catch it streaming through September 20 @knowtheatre.com