Fisher Center Gives Animated Cabaret
Some performances, such as Astrid Hadad’s Fisher Center Series piece “La Cuchilla (The Razor),” are so strong as visual spectacles and resonating socio-political critique that they nearly defy description. Often, these performances can only be captured in the ways in which they animate and affect their audiences. When the hundreds of audience members of Hadad’s show filed out of the Smith Opera House, they were filled with awe, excitement and a nearly perceptible questioning.
Staged as a picaresque socio-political cabaret, “La Cuchilla” brandished its figured razor and pointed it playfully and powerfully at political figures, Mexican artists, the socio-economic climate of the country, but most prevalently the various roles of women in Mexico.
“There were so many clear points Hadad made: challenging stereotypes of women, critiquing Mexican sexuality and questioning women’s roles in general,” said Jacqui Sands ’09, pointing out the issues that stole the spotlight of Hadad’s show. The musical numbers ranged in subject matter from domestic abuse toward women, gender inequality based on sexual pleasure, and the ubiquitous presence of machismo.
In addition to its focus on gender roles, “La Cuchilla” also took governmental jabs. As Lauren Alleyne, assistant professor of English, pointed out afterward, “It was a visually delightful work of political cabaret.” During the show, Hadad sang an entire number dressed as “the only metrosexual political rebel: Subcamandante Marcos,” a female Hadad in a white dress and a beard-esque face mask, simulating the one worn by the man himself.
“I found her performance thrilling. As a work of cabaret, the spectacle was amazing” said Lisa Black, assistant professor of theatre. “It was that wonderful combination of sweet and edgy.” During Hadad’s performance, her costumes and props ranged from a dress that replicated a Baroque Mexican church to a costume that sprouted plush flowers to hats that featured everything from wine glasses to confetti. All in service to her silly yet sardonic stage performance.
One performance-goer, Gala Mukomolova ’09, said that, “It was absolutely outrageous and insanely innovative in the best of ways.”
Marissa Biondolillo ’11 added, “Her performance was incredibly entertaining regardless of whether you understood Spanish or not.”
Noting how the serious points of Hadad’s show transcended spoken language, Richard Salter, associate professor of religious studies, said that, “It’s hard to express irony in another language, but she certainly did through her costumes, mannerisms and affectations.”
Hadad herself joked that, “In Mexico, we recycle everything: table cloths into dresses, politicians into comedians.” In saying so, she drew attention to Mexico’s socio-political climate and to her skirt, which had in fact been crafted out of a table cloth.
Recognizing similar connections and other finer points of Hadad’s performance, Melissa Duncan ’09 used her prior knowledge from studying Hadad in class with May Farnsworth, assistant professor of Spanish and Hispanic studies, to note subtlety and allusions. “Having read about Astrid Hadad and her work beforehand let me view her performance on an interpretative level a bit more,” Duncan said. “For example, most of her costumes were based on famous paintings or cultural references, even the little objects related to feminism or Mexican culture, which I found to be a powerful statement.”
Bringing this year’s Fisher Center Series on “Animation and Gender” to a close, the series will feature its own pre-doctoral fellow, Jillian Burcar, for “(Re)Animating the Cyborg,” on Wednesday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room. A roundtable discussion will be held the following morning in the Fisher Center (Demarest 212) from 9 – 10 a.m.