Copycat Variety Show

Emily Myers, Sarah Miller and Marlo’s feline take on Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In The World)” Photo by Philip Laubner

Performance Variety Show VII

The Copycat Theatre has no store front, no marquee, and save for a table near the door, no ticket booth. It’s actually a large shared living space in a warehouse on the edge of the Station North Arts District in what was once a bottle cap factory.

When you enter the space there’s a traditional stage next to a larger staging area. There are professional lights, a back drop, a trapeze and an upright piano. The core of the space is surrounded by a hive of artist’s apartments. Before the show I wandered back to the kitchen and watched as a crew was making a film unrelated to the fundraiser I was there to cover. I took some pictures, the actors stayed focused. I went about my work as they did theirs. I found myself wishing film shoots and wandering photographers were a normal domestic occurrence at my house.

I’ve enjoyed various Copycat Theatre members’ productions outside the warehouse in which they reside – they’re intense and immersive experiences. Finding myself inside their living space while witnessing a rather elaborate production I realized that their art is their lifestyle. Their living room is, quite literally, a stage.

The Big Picture

The performances ranged from fun spoofs like the feline take on Rihanna’s Only Girl (In The World) — except Emily Myers, Sarah Miller and Marlo switched the lyric to The Only Cat. They were backed by a hilarious stop-motion video by Shay and a beautiful modern ballet piece performed by Alex D’agostino that included a haunting voice over that meditated on gender issues.

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.


Photo by Philip Laubner

Having grown up and endured an aloof New England art scene, my senses are trained to detect and then reject angry and empty posturing or artsiness. The Copycat is an art space, but it doesn’t feel angry or pretentious. The feeling I got when I arrived was excitement, bristling energy and purpose.

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Photo by Philip Laubner

I was there on Saturday night for Performance Variety Show VII. The event was held to raise funds for the theater’s 2nd Annual Rooms Play. The Rooms Play is conceptual and immersive theater and it’s also monumental in scope in that it takes twenty rooms and dozens of volunteers to produce. In addition to the variety show, they’ve also started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the play that will coincide with this year’s Transmodern Festival. Your good deed for the day might be following this Kickstarter link, watching the video in amazement (or not if you’re short on time) and finally, donating five dollars or more to the Copycat Theatre to help them produce this year’s play.

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Photo by Philip Laubner

The nights theme was dance and featured fifteen, five minute dance/performance art pieces. Hosts Monica Mirabile, Sam Shea, Hoesy Corona, Pilar Diaz and Person Ablach danced and performed in a show that also featured Rebecca Nagle, BXDC (Baltimore Experimental Dance Collective), Claire Cote of Effervescent Collective and many others.

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Photo by Philip Laubner

A wide swath of emotional territory was covered during the evening. Rebecca Nagle’s mini-play, This Is How I Tamed My Psyche So I Could Love You, exhibited physical and psychological humor, black comedy, a surprise twist and finally a duo dance number with Jenny Sage. All happened in five minutes.

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Monica Mirabile appeared twice; once in a dramatic rouge-painted duet with Bethany Dinsick entitled Bones, and again in an amazing piece with the Baltimore Experimental Dance Collective called The Pod. The piece uses a giant blue sock hung from the ceiling. The members of the collective start the piece inside the pod — moving as a unit, pushing, pulling, creating a living sculpture, and then emerging one-by-one, deconstructing from the whole, and emerging as individuals.

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Photo by Philip Laubner

All told the evening was exactly what one would expect from a tribe of highly imaginative, thoughtful and talented, motivated young artists. It was inspirational, thought provoking and wildly entertaining. The art that these performers shared with the audience comes directly from their imagination without hinderance of a middle man or critic. The space where it was staged is where they eat, sleep, live and daydream. There is an energy there that can’t be replicated. What I found here is a level of sincerity in those who are making art for art’s sake that can’t be achieved by those who are motivated by everything else. And here lies the artist’s dilemma. How does one live for the sake of unfettered creation in a world beset by boundaries? For the time being, this group of artists seem to have answered by creating a stage all of their own.

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

 

Photo by Philip Laubner

Performance Variety Show VII at the Copycat Theatre

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Performance Variety Show VII at the Copycat Theatre

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Photo by Philip Laubner

Performance Variety Show VII at the Copycat Theatre

Photo and story by Philip Laubner.

Support the Copycat Theatre, Donate To Help Produce This Year’s Rooms Play.

Here you are, in a waiting room, writing down your name in a time slot, preparing yourself to expect the unexpected. Someone calls your name; this person is dressed as a businessman with the face of a pig. He leads you into a room where you have to crawl through a tunnel. As you enter the next room, you are met by wise creatures who tell you stories and give you gifts to aid you on the journey you are about to embark on. You eventually find yourself faced with strange challenges where you must answer riddles and appear on weirdo talk shows to discover that without you and your decisions, this world would not exist. In this journey, YOU become the hero, YOU are the main character.

“The Rooms Play is a collaborative, immersive theatrical experience that asks the viewer to become a participant in the performance. There are twenty- two rooms to walk through, and each one is directed by a different team of 2-5 local artists and musicians. Each space in The Rooms Play functions like a scene of a play, and the audience members are integral to the scene’s unfolding.”

-ROOMS PLAY KICKSTARTER PAGE

WHAT DO A YOUTH MEDIA FESTIVAL AND A FARM-TO-TABLE RESTAURANT HAVE IN COMMON?

Wide Angle Youth Media started the Who Are You? Youth Media Festival in 2005 to build local audiences for local youth voices in order to strengthen ties and foster understanding in our community. For this year’s festival benefit, Wide Angle is very excited to feature Spike and Amy Gjerde, co-owners of Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore’s premiere farm-to-table restaurant grounded in the traditions and ingredients of the Chesapeake region. Woodberry’s commitment to partnering with local farmers is a model for how to build a business based on the values of community, sustainability and strong relationships. We hope you’ll join us!

INFO: info@wideanglemedia.org, 443-759-6700.

 

 

The Deutsch Foundation supports individuals and organizations committed to testing new solutions to enduring challenges, protecting society’s assets, exploring new domains of knowledge and social innovation, and advocating for the common good.

Philip Laubner

Philip is a writer and portrait photographer based in Baltimore.

  • http://whatweekly.com/2011/03/23/variety-show/ Variety Show | What Weekly Magazine

    [...] Festival 2010Caleb Stine CD Release PartyDARB TV « Torso of Diana With Head of Aphrodite Copy Cat Variety Show » blog comments powered by Disqus [...]

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.laubner Philip Edward Laubner

    Check out my new piece on the CopyCat Theatre in What Weekly!! And do me a favor, go to their kick start page and donate. The theatre is making the kind of art that makes me proud to live in Baltimore!!!
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/roomsplay/the-rooms-play

  • www.bmorebedell.com

    I’ve got to check out the Copycat one of these days, everything I hear coming out of there seems a little crazy and a lot you gotta be there moments.

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