Ponderings about human existence have underscored the recent dance-theater works of Beth Corning. The latest from the dancer and choreographer’s Glue Factory Project, BECKETT & beyond, delves even deeper into both existentialism and the marriage of movement and theater. The 70-minute work includes two short physical-theater pieces by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett.
Concluding CorningWorks’ fifth-anniversary season, BECKETT & beyond receives five performances, Sept. 9-13 at the New Hazlett Theater. It is choreographed by Corning and will be performed by her and two stage veterans: acclaimed French dancer/actress Franciose Fournier, and Yvan Auzely, a former dancer with Sweden’s Cullberg Ballet.
The show incorporates theatrical lessons Corning learned in creating her 2013 solo work Remains, developed with Tony-winning physical-theater director Dominique Serrand. It is bookended by two one-acts by the Waiting for Godot playwright. Beckett’s “Act Without Words” follows two performers who emerge from sacks on stage, as if awakening, to carry on very different daily routines. And “Rockaby,” directed by Pittsburgh’s Melissa Grande, is about a woman (Corning) in a rocking chair recounting details from her life and that of her dead mother.
Danced to an eclectic mix of music including Meredith Monk and classical pieces, BECKETT & beyond features a “floating landscape” set design by Point Park University associate professor Stephanie Mayer-Staley, and incorporates Corning’s penchant for metaphor and props, including 200 feet of bungee cord.
“I like making worlds,” says Corning. In this world, three individuals journey through life to comment on the very nature of existence.
While on those journeys, Corning says, audiences should expect a few surprises. But what has not been a surprise over the past five years of CorningWorks’ Glue Factory Projects has been the quality dance-theater from the artistic director Corning and her company. Works like At Once There Was a House and Parallel Lives have consistently stood among each dance season’s very best. Corning has found that magic elixir of thought-provoking subject matter, expert performers and polished production values that both challenges and entertains audiences.