By Charlotte Perkins Gilman; Adapted, Directed, and Choreographed by Caitlin Ort
Part of the 2018 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Dance/Play
Runs through 10.28.18
FringeHUB, 685 Washington Street
by Regina Robbins on 10.20.18
Megan Ort in The Yellow Wallpaper. Photo by Caitlin Ort.
BOTTOM LINE: The groundbreaking 19th-century story is brought to life onstage.
When Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper" in the 1890s, she opened up a conversation that we're still not finished with. Based on Gilman's own experience with postpartum depression, the short story is told from the perspective of a young mother whose husband, a physician, insists that the cure for her mysterious malady is virtual seclusion and zero intellectual activity. To put it bluntly, he's wrong.
This literary descent into madness has frequently been adapted for stage and screen. In a new dance theatre piece created by Caitlin Ort, the solitary narrator (played by Megan Ort) is flanked by a chorus of four women, representing aspects of her own psyche. They act as secret confidants with whom she can share the thoughts and fears she dare not speak of with her husband (Carver Duncan) or the other members of their household. No attempt is made to evoke the wallpaper of the story's title with design; its fearful, oppressive appearance is communicated through Gilman's words and Ort's choreography.
Ort's staging makes the most of a modest space and her ensemble works together seamlessly; the tension between the fragile narrator(s), her clueless and condescending spouse, and the inscrutable household staff is palpable. Over 125 years after its publication, "The Yellow Wallpaper" still has the power to move and disturb us. That fact, both inspiring and sobering, makes this new interpretation a welcome one.
(The Yellow Wallpaper plays at FringeHUB, 685 Washington Street at Charles Street, through October 28, 2018. Meet at the RED FringeNYC flag. The running time is 40 minutes. Performances are Sun 10/14 at 2:30, Mon 10/15 at 7:15, Sun 10/21 at 8:45, Sat 10/27 at 5:30, and Sun 10/28 at 3. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $22 (plus $3.69 ticketing fee), $16 (plus $3.51) for seniors, and are ONLY available online at fringenyc.org. For more information visit caitlinort.com.)
The Yellow Wallpaper is by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Adapted, Directed, and Choreographed by Caitlin Ort. Associate Director is Megan Ort. Music by Dustin O'Halloran. Stage Manager is Victorian Fearn.
The cast is Carver Duncan, Clarise Fearn, Meghan Glogower, Jasmine Harris, Olivia Helaine, Madison Mitchell, Megan Ort, Steph Seiden, Annie Sherman, Rebecca Skowron, and Brianne Wylie.