Francesca Francesca

Venue 13

Aug 18-23, 25-29
18:45
£6-£8

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CalArts Festival Theater’s Francesca, Francesca portrays American photographic virtuoso Francesca Woodman as she matures from student to working artist and finally to her despondent death. Suffering from paranoia and little faith in the power of her work jarred with her incongruous narcissism. Incongruous because it was at polar odds with the shyness that Woodman just couldn’t shake which is evident in her shrinking self portraits. This brave lady got smaller and insignificantly blurrier as her short career of roughly a decade progressed culminating in her throwing her twenty two year old self out a high rise in New York in the early eighties.

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 Unfortunately like Amy Winehouse and Alexander McQueen the tragic end of such enviable capability cut short while riding high on the crest of their respective careers overshadows and cloaks them in an air of mystery that becomes another complicated layer to peel off. Talking about peeling off there has to be reference to nudity to portray Woodman with any sense of conviction but the adult content warnings could be revised with a more honest Warning : contains some clothing! Actresses Chelsea DuVall (Francesca) and Skylar Hamblen (Sloan) are convincing, acting oblivious to their nakedness which may well be a tool to convey their tender friendship in this biographical fictitious but partially true tale of driving ambition and personal angst. This gives the audience a more uncomfortable feeling of inappropriate spying like we are looking at an uncurtained life and I wonder if this voyeuristic edginess is indeed intended and appropriate to get us into her headspace. Conceptually aware at such a tender age due to artistic parents who furnished her with a sketchbook at every museum they visited,Woodman was known to be the best photographer at Rhode Island School of Design.Cindy Sherman cites her as an important influence in crafting her artistic voice.

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Exploration of self and gender were Woodman’s missions, analyzing her representation of the body in relation to its natural or man-made environment. It is fitting that her small and highly personal photographs are projected in the small space of Venue 13 where the multimedia performance is projected onto a rusty roll top bath that makes for sharp screen viewing that is less lucid on the muslin backdrops behind.At times serene this work shows an obvious fascination for and insight into Woodman’s working methods and experimental approach to her subject matter.Directed by Megan Lewicki,written by Chelsea DuVall with considered set deign by Jesse Garrison.Objective theatre that challenges the bias that negatively enshrouds Francesca Woodman.This team deserves its significant kickstarter sum and our support. FOUR STARS

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four-stars

 Reviewer: Clare Crines

Posted on August 18, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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