By Jordan Levin
Call it theater of the surreal … made spectacularly and disorientingly real: Women romping overhead in a pool of water. A man on a treadmill, crashing through walls and rooms as if the world were rushing past him. People dancing in tiny rooms until their flying limbs shatter the walls.
All that wildness happens in Fuerza Bruta (Spanish for Brute Force), the Argentine spectacle that will transform the Ziff Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts into a theatrical funhouse through Sunday, Aug. 9.
For the show's creators, action is all. They dispense with script, story, words and any conventional sense of meaning to create a theater of the senses, simultaneously high impact and high concept.
Fuerza Bruta will transform the opera house theater with an ambitious environmental production that uses the space in ways radically different from the shows usually staged there. The performance will share the stage and vast backstage area with members of the audience, who will surround the performers and even participate. Instead of coming in through the front doors and the lobby, they will enter through the loading dock, which will be filled with specially created art and video, then pass through an industrial-chic lounge and restaurant created by famed party designer Barton G intended to mirror Fuerza's disorienting environment.
Arsht Center management hopes to make its production of the show into a uniquely Miami environment reflecting the area's edgy, club-going energy and capacity for the unexpected.
Fuerza Bruta is an intensely collaborative effort. The scenes may start with images in the mind of Diqui James, the primary creator: the man running on a treadmill through a cardboard “wall” came to him while he was waiting in a bank and imagined breaking through the plate glass window and running down the street. The women who romp in water held by a giant plastic sheet suspended above the audience started with James' wish to see a woman walking in an overhead pool of water.
But bringing those images to life is a painstaking and, in many ways, highly technical process. The show's creators experiment with apparatus and materials and bring in architects and engineers. Fuerza Bruta took from 2002 to 2006 to complete.
James emphasizes that Fuerza's images are meant to function on their own, whether the audience enjoys them purely for their physical and sensory impact or interprets them on another level.
“I don't work with meanings; they don't interest me,” James says. “I’m not saying that the representation of a man breaking with routine is a man running on a treadmill and breaking through a wall. It's not a metaphor for me. For me it is what it is, and afterwards everyone has their own interpretation.”
Fuerza Bruta's performers must combine physical skill and a particularly adventurous attitude that allow them to enjoy the show’s physical risks and the uncertainties of interaction with members of the audience, who are encouraged to touch, dance, and otherwise participate.
“To me, one of the strongest things that resulted from Fuerza Bruta’s kind of theater is that a ton of young people who have never gone to the theater went to Fuerza Bruta,” James said. “You have to have an open mind. If the fact that it doesn't have a story is a problem for you, you're not going to enjoy it. If you give more value to creativity, to the experience, then you will. Theater isn't limited because there are no words.”
Fuerza Bruta, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Aug. 9; Ziff Ballet Opera House (enter at loading dock on Northeast 14th St. between Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast Second Avenue.), Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.
Tickets: $73.75. A party pack promotion is being offered and includes a $40 discount on four tickets. For more info call 305-949-6722 or visit www.arshtcenter.org.
Fuerza Bruta opens at the Arsht Center June 11th for an 8 week run.