Rua Wulf. The Goat Farm Arts Center. Atlanta, Ga.
"There is a precipice of choice your toes sharply stand on." - Guide
The story was familiar enough... familiar enough in fact to draw you in. What with the movie deals, TV appearances, and countless written versions, the tale of Red Riding Hood has become quite the story to tell and re-tell. So when a chance email revealed the opportunity to experience the story in a never-before-had sort of environment, G and I were happy to give it a whirl. After all, it was something different, it was close enough to be tempting, and the night was perfect! And so we went. Upon first arriving, it took us a second to figure out if we were in the right spot. We arrived about 40 minutes before we were supposed to, and when we drove down the drive, we saw what appeared to be abandoned buildings, many falling apart (literally) with the windows broken in, huge sliding doors, and random animals roaming about (a turkey, chickens, dogs, a pig, and goats...). We drove around, looking for any sign of life among the many parked cars, and after a little bit of discovery, it was clear that we had stumbled upon a collection of artists' studios and lofts; an amazing space filled to the brim with energy and creativity - the perfect setting for a play. We started getting excited...anything that came from this space had to be amazing! And it so was!
The story was traditional in that there was a young girl with a red riding hood, her mother, grandmother, and the wolf figure. And while there was the traditional girl-goes-through-woods-to-grandmas-house, there was a deviation from the stone path (as it were) and a new sense of choice that changed your view of how the story really went. Before long, you were caught up in the passion and intensity of wonder and young love, the awakening of senses and the need for acceptance and love. And in the end, after everything was out in the open, and the intensity of the confusion and sexual desire between the characters really did have you a bit shaken, you were left in the throws of the after the "happily ever" and for that, you had a new meaning to the story. It was incredibly well done and delivered... I am still in awe!
One of the things I loved most was the use of the cotton gin ruins as the backdrop for the scenes and the evolution within the story. You really got to see and explore almost all of the areas (12 acres I think) of the site, and with each place, there was a new part of the story to tell. And there was even a surprise intermission tea time! For me, tea time was basically a loose adaptation of something you would find in Alice's Wonderland... or I thought so at least. Four long skinny tables sitting underneath a ceiling-less building and an endless night sky, lined with white linens, cloth napkins, mismatched china, and chandeliers made from wire, flowers, and tulle. Very whimsical, and very appropriate! And as we were sitting there at the long decorated table, sipping our delightfully hot teas and snacking on dainty little cookies, I couldn't help but think that this might be the perfect place for us to be completely blindsided by a turn of events... Here we were, basically trusting our lives to the souls before us, who were leading us around a dark, crumbling mass of land and dilapidated structures. We followed them, willingly, (afraid to be left alone in the dark), as they lead us into tight, dark rooms, closed the doors behind us, and subjected us to whatever they pleased. We were their pawns, and we couldn't help but oblige their every move. How freely do we offer ourselves to potentially ::sketchy:: situations for the sake of artistic experience? Apparently even more so freely at the chance to hear a good story, in a cool part of town, with the addition of tea and cookies! But we trusted them and their intentions, and in the end, they delivered! The story was amazing (a necessary rearrangement of an all-too-familiar tale), the actors were some of the best performers I've ever seen, and the venue could not have been better. I think the fact that you had to cling to each other for fear of tripping only heightened our sensitivity to the sounds and bumps that made the story come alive. And boy were they using it! It was so much so an art installation come alive! Flowers were made from deconstructed bottles and jugs, decorated and hung from the trees. A forest was created inside a building by hanging yards of linen, with dramatic lights playing up the characters with intense shadows. But for me, just being in that space was enough drama. I don't think I can convey how truly awesome it was, but if you have the chance, you must experience it! It was amazing!