To Be Continued!
Something about 'hOle,' a new live theatrical serial in nine episodes, is bringing folks back to the Vortex every Tuesday night of this long, hot summer
"So what happened last night in the hOle?"
That's the question Michelle Fowler has been fielding on Wednesday mornings this summer from enthusiastic fans of hOle, a new live serial of sorts running Tuesday nights in the Yard at the Vortex. The story, told over nine episodes, concerns a magical well embedded in a large crater and the fight among four tribes for control of it. Fowler plays one of four shamans at the heart of the battle, using mystical abilities and psychic attacks to shift the balance of power in her favor and gain ultimate possession of the hOle. Each installment charts the escalating conflict among the shamans, and devotees who can't make a performance are eager to find out what they've missed.
Now, you won't mistake this for 24. There are no ticking time bombs, steamy soap-operatic subplots, or tough, tart dialogue to keep audiences coming back episode after episode. In fact, there's little dialogue at all. The show is a performance installation, much like HyperZoo and The Black Tower, where movement and atmosphere reveal much of what you come to know about these characters. But that was part of those earlier shows' appeal, the primal quality it gave them and the chance it gave audiences to steep themselves in living myth.
hOle is, like HyperZoo and The Black Tower, produced by ethos, which means it offers a richly realized alternate world. Artistic Director Chad Salvata has not only helped his shamans Fowler, Jo Beth Henderson, Betsy McCann, Melissa Vogt, and Selina Wright develop their own movement vocabularies and tribal cultures, he's created a fictitious archeologist, whose discoveries of these prehistoric cultures are documented in a kind of on-site museum that helps explain to newcomers the setting of hOle. And what a setting, with elaborate visuals provided by veteran Vortex designers Ann Marie Gordon, Aerin Holman, and Jason Amato and 31 tons of dirt making the titular hOle.
It may be those visuals or the feel of that brave old world or the shamans themselves Fowler reports that "people are picking favorites, shamans that they connect with" or their fight for control of the well, but something about hOle is grabbing folks and bringing them back to the Yard at the Vortex throughout this long, hot summer. There are just three episodes left, and all-out war is raging now among the shamans of hOle. Who will live? Who will die? Tune in next week for these exciting answers and more!
hOle continues through Aug. 2, Tuesdays, 8:30pm, in the Yard at the Vortex, 2307 Manor. For more information, call 478-LAVA or visit www.vortexrep.org.