|Labyrinth Busker Journal presents:
A play by Ken Post
Twelve buskers return to New York, meet up, exchange experiences and views, get arrested and thrown into jail. Overnight, they each have a dream featuring their personal hero in the world of art. From Van Gogh to Charlie Parker, let the humour... erm..sorry.. trials commence. In this clip, Jack Kerouac (Brian Pearce) endorses life 'on the road'.
Welcome to the Labyrinth Busker Journal TIGHTROPE page. Tightrope is a ground breaking look at how artists have struggled to present their art through all adversity - and how their efforts have adjusted attitudes for good or bad as we rolled into a new millenium. A true artist veers between moral, immoral and amoral and seeks his own truth. Such a thing is not always welcomed by society, but often society is challenged and impelled to recognise the value of the artist's idea of truth.
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A play by Ken Post
|It may not have been the most
far-reaching, life changing event of 1999 in the eyes of the world -
but the world, if
it is healthy, composes of groups of individuals like these. Their aim is to inspire themselves and others - and to
share the mutual building of something that will entertain for awhile, with a social commentary there to be had for
those who wish it so.In England, you will see this spirit in the Amateur Dramatic Societies.You will find this spirit
in all street parades, carnivals and other outlets that offer a window of presentation to the world.
But there is too often an end fence where the sign ,"Know your station' adorns the borders - and a group of arrogant
patricians will laugh at your efforts should you attempt to scale the fence.They will line up, swords drawn, should
you attempt to negotiate the fence. But there are a few places where a small group of determined individuals can
create the feel of a movement and take an artistic project to potentially unexpected heights.
Tightrope was a masterpiece as a musical, because it walked the Tightrope in such a way that everyone would glean
some understanding from it - but no one could entirely comprehend it. Ken Post allowed his cast to build and
improvise on his script -- and, if they wished, they could uncover their own melody or arrangement onto the songs
they were required to perform.
But there is more than this! In Europe there were Flemish and Dutch seeking to master a script that would have left
many an Anglo-Saxon struggling. For the New York shows there was the amazingly rapid blend of New Yorkers
and Euros seeking one purpose:- the successful performance of the 6 Tightrope shows scheduled in the Fringe Festival.
Well.... amongst the sweet smell of triumph lingered the faint whiff of defeat.The unity of the Euro contingent had
become just a little jagged before the New York trip. By the time the shows had been completed the unity had
effectively collapsed. It had nothing to do with the shows. It had all to do with the relationship disruptions amongst
the group and a feeling that they were grown (inwardly) enough to persue their own projects.
In the end.... no one was able to replace Tightrope within themselves. It was something that enthused them. It was
something they could criticise - even seek to minimalise. But when it came down to it .... no one could replace
Tightrope within themselves.
There was the sheer exhaustion of Ken Post, after a year of the play's painful delivery. You can imagine it cost Ken
much in sweat and stress. Is it any wonder that the consequent burn out left him unable to capitalise on the triumphant
return to Belgium?
VTM (television) had run a news report on us. A million people were suddenly made aware of the name 'Tightrope'.
Strike while the iron is hot! It didn't happen....and it should simply have been more shows like those performed at the
Tschaplin,Deurne.There was one key difficulty with any attempt to stage a show - and it was near insurmountable -
the cast had either fallen away, or were bereft of the unity that carried the project from its first mumblings in the
Muziekdoos on to its radio Centraal airing - and on to the ten live shows in Antwerp and New York.
On the last night in New York, as I witnessed all my fellow performers click ever more onto their roles, I thought that
if we were to do another four or five shows we would be unstoppable. In the end, however, Tightrope is an experience
that will not be forgotten by those who helped it grow in '98/'99.
Labyrinth Journal will eventually unload entries regarding Tightrope, but for a brief history, photos and reviews....
visit Ken Post's site.
by Ken Post
At New York Performance Works
Reviewed by David Roberts for Theatre Reviews Limited
Those who are "cast out" walk a tightrope, a fine line between enjoying the benefits of the culture/society from which they have been evicted (or "feel" they have been evicted from) and decrying the many flaws inherent in that same culture/society. Once cast out, the other tightrope they walk is the one of survival, continued freedom of expression, as well as personal and artistic well-being.
Self described "ex-patriot" Ken Post has assembled a ragtag cast of outcasts from around the world who play themselves and an interesting assemblage of "outcasts" who have gained considerable notoriety for their (often unrecognized or underground) successes in the arts. These latter outcasts are the heroes of those "traveling street performers" who have reunited in New York City to "talk, sing, dance, get arrested, spend the night in jail [and] dream about their heroes in a series of trial sequences that are inspired to invent the future." So reads the program for Ken Post's "Tightrope" which was featured at New York Performance Works as part of the 1999 New York International Fringe Festival.
After being introduced to the current group of society's riffraff, the audience watches the series of trials of their heroes: painter Vincent Van Gogh (Jay Byrd); beat poet Jack Kerouac (Brian Pearce); poet Arthur Rimbaud (Bart Goeteyn); writer Anais Nin (Inge De Grauwe); abstract painter Georgia O'Keefe (Kim Ten Zythoff); saxophonist Charlie Parker (Lenny North); playwright Henry Miller (Wesley De Jonghe); dancer Isadora Duncan (Kim Ten Zythoff); sculptor Camille Claudel (Erin Esposito); jazz stylist Bessie Smith (Bonnie Burns); painter Pablo Picasso (Ken Post); and painting master Salvador Dali (Roy Van Der Haagen).
These vignettes (with original songs by Ken Post and Bonnie Burns) succeed to a varying degree on many levels. The music is faithful to the style of each "celebrated" artist and performed well by the show's musicians (and occasionally by Ken Post on guitar). In fact the music and its instrumental performance is the strength of "Tightrope." Erin Esposito as Camille Claudel sings, "How did my gifts get so twisted?" Jesse Helms interrogates Georgia O'Keefe (nice touch!). Rimbaud (Bart Goeteyn) bemoans his "poor young heart shot to pieces." Charlie Parker (Lenny North) questions America "the nation of laws." And Bessie Smith's (Bonnie Burns) "A Woman Can Be Like Coffee" is wonderfully over the top.
The performances of the actors vary from the highly commendable to the barely acceptable. The staging is haphazard at best and the actors seem to forget there is a microphone apparently intended for their use. The wearing of headset microphones which were never turned on will remain one of life's minor mysteries.
But most of this can be easily forgiven once the show's finale settles on the ears and conscience of the audience. Ken Post and his traveling band of self proclaimed outcasts want more than anything to find a way to save America from itself and its odd brand of artistic oppression. "The Future," the final section of "Tightrope," is pure passion and pure fun. "Pick That Lock" is a wonderful song urging us all to "steal the future." "Pelican Nights" is beautiful. And the finale "Baseball & Rock & Roll" is an explosion of raw repressed energy which reverberates through the audience like a poet's prayer.
Don't forget, this is a play about outcasts. Maybe all wasn't meant to be perfect. Maybe Ken Post's intent, like poet Arthur Rimbaud's, is the very "derangement of all the senses." I believe that's the case. And I believe Mr. Post is successful in this brave endeavor. With Ken Post and his passionate cast, "Say A Prayer For NYC."
Reviewed on Sunday, August 29, 1999 (Final Performance)
Written and directed by Ken Post. Presented at New York Performance Works in August at the New York International Fringe Festival. Final Fringe performance on Sunday, August 29, 1999.
WITH: Bonnie Burns, Jay Byrd, Inge De Grauwe, Wesley De Jonghe, Erin Esposito, Bart Goeteyn, Maarten Muller, Lenny North, Brian Pearce, John Perry, Ken Post, Geert Seminck, Kim Ten Zythoff, Roy Van Der Haagen, and Els Vergauwen. Band: Maarten Muller, guitar; Matt Weiner, bass; Eddie Watkins, drums. Also seen playing a mean saxophone is Lenny North (though not listed).