Be twenty something. Planning your track in this world, juggling the job search with after-hours dancing or dates at that great wine bar. You wake up and press play to the same-old morning monologue: “This is my year, this is my time to get what I want.”
Now go see Actress Fury. Three women, tearing up the dance floor, chanting in unison: “I want to be killin’ it-killin’ it-killin’ it-killin’ it.”
The Rallying Cry of our generation spoken out of the mouths of babes. Actress Fury at The Bushwick Starr is created and performed by artist Jennie MaryTai Liu in collaboration with Hannah Heller and Alexa Weir. In this performance, deep-seated desires are funneled through the guise of the Actress. A rightful metaphor, because more so than not, it is easier to play a role than to be yourself.
Actress Fury delves into ambition and having it all—the life of a 21st century woman. Of course unanimous success is easier said than done—the action of the performance is the disjunction between desire and its actualization in life. “It’s about some kind of primal need to act and be recognized for your actions,” stated MaryTai Liu. What we want is not always what we get, and handling the missteps of life can be disheartening.
Forget the Proscenium Stage, Actress Fury obliterates the Fourth Wall of Theater as viewers sit on benches circumnavigating a central “stage” filled with anthropomorphic pastel props and mirrors. Once the lights go down, and the DJ presses play, these women work-it and for the next 55 minutes, eyes are glued to this dance-theater performance.
Extracting a narrative plot would be unnecessary. It is not the story—the reality effect—but the drama—the women in action—that best symbolizes the throes of life. Where will my life be in 5 years? When is the L train going to arrive? Anxieties creep through an adult’s mind continuously.
Actress Fury is something of an existential crisis in action, detailing disparate moments along the timeline of life. Replete with soliloquies and subconscious bantering, one standout character is Brigitte. She just got a promotion as the Associate Director for Outreach at a non-profit. She married the man of her dreams and just found out she is pregnant. High Five! Life is going according to plan.
Until it is not. Life is quirky like that, always going against your goals, flowing with the flux of the world around you. Brigitte suffers a miscarriage, and all is lost. Or is it?
“Troy has never seen a warrior such as this,” says one of the performers as they undulate in disjunction in spectacular Sci-Fi spandex apparel. This node to Greek Mythology is not an outlier, but an underlying theme. As a Classical Greek-o-phile, I associated the performers as a Chorus in Ancient Greek Theater playing the Erinyes, the deities of vengeance invoked in the Illiad—the Epic Poem bearing the same line uttered in Actress Fury. This great warrior of the Illiad was Ajax—the ultimate soldier, the Super Ego, but also, the man who was too proud to lose, falling on his own sword, conquered by his own sorrow. Ajax was an inspiration for MaryTai Lui:
“Ajax was really interesting to me because this is a story of a person with a huge ego and reputation that is completely humiliated. Shame and self-loathing and the feeling of something irreversible I connected to…And the idea that it was about success versus happiness is intriguing, and what I think this piece is trying to speak to.”
A riotous performance of a life lived not according to plan. The antithesis of desire—stability—rather than success at all costs becomes a favored choice. As the performance comes to a close, a woman speaks, “You must find a way to show your mother her baby girl isn’t godless.” Balancing your desires, finding a success that suits happiness, is the zenith of a life. Easier said than done of course.
Actress Fury plays at The Bushwick Starr at 8PM through February 15, 2014. General admission is $18, angel admission $50. Get your tickets here.