Big Dance Theater: 17c

Before there was social media, there was the diary — written in private, but often to an imagined public. Some diaries become read by millions: case in point, the diary of Samuel Pepys. He actually is known to us mainly because of his diary, which he wrote from 1660 until 1669. He spared nothing: his bowel movements, what he wore, how he felt, who he fondled, his fights with his wife, his extramarital affairs, his guilt, his striving to improve himself, the Great Plague —  in short, it reads pretty much like a Facebook news feed. That is what Annie-B Parson thought, and while brainstorming the social media/diary concept along with her Co-Artistic Director Paul Lazar and some of the amazing members of Big Dance Theater, the fabulous piece entitled 17c was born. This newest performance by one of my favorite theater ensembles at Brooklyn Academy of Music last night once again featured Cynthia Hopkins. She added her incredible voice, multi-media savvy, and ability to embody practically any character to the already formidable cast. Big Dance Theater combines movement, drama, song and inventive staging and costumes to present an evening of theater that feels like a 3-D collage for all the senses. (For a taste of their unique approach to creating work, check out these publications: Another Telepathic Thing or Dance by Letter.) In a word, 17c was layered and lush, the performers impressive, and I admit it: I had a ball snooping through Samuel’s diaries. Had he been alive today, I am curious about what he would have preferred: Facebook, Twitter, or his own blog? Perhaps all three (or none of the above?) What do you think?

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