Addison — Theater has fuzzy edges. Can you call dance that is full-length with a story arc and a narrator theater? Where is the line between a thematic stand-up comedy show and a humorous theatrical monologue? Does storytelling live at the edge of theater? What about performance poetry?
Alexandria Gurley, a.k.a. Alex Tha Great, explores the fuzzy line between slam poetry and theater in her one-woman play Passport to Womanhood running at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. Gurley has impressive credentials in performance poetry, touring nationally as a solo artist and performing with Dallas and Fort Worth poetry slams, and has five collections of poetry to her credit.
Slam is its own poetic beast, lacking conventional rhyme or meter. Torrents of words flow in impassioned cadences, expressing authentic truths of urban life. A good slam poet will take you right to the edge of what’s comfortable and sometimes past. Tightly worded poetic raves build into climatic peaks, or descend into internal depths that rumble. It can be intense. That’s their job.
While Gurley performs the part with heartfelt authenticity, in translating her slam poetry to theater for Passport To Womanhood, the intensity is lost. The play follows a much too predictable and smooth arc from sweet childhood to tormented youth to accomplished young woman. You end up yearning for some conflict, a twist, or unanticipated outcome. The real journey of life is bumpy with many turns.
Many, many wonderful points are made in this admirable play about the legacy of mothers and the idea women must trust themselves before becoming a romantic partner. Theater about African-American women’s special travails is far too underrepresented, so it is commendable that Loop included this on its schedule.
» Passport to Womanhood repeats at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13; and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15 in the Stone Cottage at the Addison Theatre Centre
» WaterTower Theatre's 2014 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival is 10 days of live theater, dance, music and visual art. To see the full schedule, go here.