Dael Orlandersmith in Stoop Stories
Photo: Craig Schwartz/CTG 2010
It almost seems unfair to write about a performance from Dael Orladersmith. She’s made a career of solo, and at times autobiographical, theatrical writing and performances that mine the space between theater and spoken word performance with a hefty dose of poetry mixed in with her characters and stories. To describe her performance in everyday prose sells a show like Stoop Stories
, which is best at its most lyrical and poetic moments, very short. Orlandersmith is performing Stoop Stories
six times this week, and another work, Bones
, at the end of the month at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. Orlandersmith has appeared in L.A. before, most memorably at the Fountain Theater, where her visions of the multiple traumas heaped upon the lives and communities of her multi-ethnic, city-dwelling characters of both genders could be both searing and incendiary. Stoop Stories
is marked by the same toughness around the edges with a keen eye on the effects of drugs and other social ills on a variety of communities. However, Stoop Stories
is equal parts nostalgia about coming of age in a New York City filled with music of wildly different varieties around every corner.
Orlandersmith congers a variety of characters including an elderly immigrant man remembering when he met Billy Holliday, an ex-rocker junkie, and Orlandersmith’s own voice. Her characters are often poets in addition to whatever else marks them as individuals, providing a platform for a series of punctuation marks on the themes in her characters' stories. And while there’s nothing revolutionary in the material, it’s delivered exceedingly well. She has a critical and knowing view of the past that isn’t just about the good stuff. Stoop Stories
is about kicking it old school when that means recognizing all the demons one’s had to come to grips with to do so.
Labels: LA Theater Reviews