Two Avant-Garde Visionaries Come to Together in Peak Performance’s Falling & Loving

Falling & Loving premiers on Tuesday, Sept. 24. (Photo by Miranda Park)

For Elizabeth Streb, founder of New York’s STREB Extreme Action Company, the question of “how things fall” has always preoccupied her.

But it wasn’t until she joined forces with Anne Bogart, co-founder of the SITI Company, that Streb’s interest in how things fall was finally translated onto stage through her invention of a “Guck Machine.” The enormous contraption features rings and buckets armed to continually release materials into the stratosphere, while six actors from SITI Company and six dancers from STREB Extreme Action storm the stage and launch themselves into the air.

Streb’s “Guck Machine” will be featured in the world premiere of Falling & Loving, presented by Peak Performances on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

“To me, the Guck Machine is extremely metaphorical. As we live our lives, our lives get messy, we get covered with the guck of mistakes, mis-moves, attempts at loving, attempts at living, attempts of flourishing,” says Bogart.

Anne Bogart. (Photo by Craig Schwartz)

Falling & Loving is the first collaboration between Bogart and Streb, “two titans of avant-garde performance,” as they joined forces to adapt the works of playwright Charles Mee into kinetic movement.

“The final product changes with each and every production,” Bogart says. “The tenor of the collaboration is always different because the specific individuals that come together demand completely new ways to collaborate.”

The collaboration between Bogart and Streb is all the more exciting as each has developed a groundbreaking approach to honing how bodies navigate the many challenges of performance in their own respective careers.

Streb’s renowned STREB Extreme Action Company features “Pop Action,” a fusion of dance, sports, gymnastics and the American Circus, according to its website. Just seven years after the inception of STREB Extreme Action, Bogart co-founded the SITI Company which redefines and revitalizes contemporary theater through an emphasis on international cultural exchange, training and collaboration.

“I began in college to begin an odd inquiry about what movement ‘could’ be as a phenomenon, and what areas I would devise particular inquiry into,” Streb said. “So it was necessary to get off the ground, and change our base of support, or my base of support away from the bottoms of my feet and I began to practice landing on whatever different parts of my body that could take impact, my shins, my back, the backs of my legs, my stomach, and ask questions, frame questions about what the true timing system could be for action.”

Elizabeth Streb. (Photo by ioulex)

For Streb, working alongside Bogart allowed for the production to explore Streb’s fascination of “falling” in conjunction with the idea of love, as Bogart adapted Mee’s love sonnets and plays to highlight various forms of expression, in which artists, ideas and objects collide.

“I hope that the audience will leave the theater inspired to enjoy the guck that life kicks up in our direction and the courage to give [in] to the messy art of living, falling and loving, to enjoy that ride that one can never fully control,” Bogart said.

Falling & Loving premiers on Tuesday, Sept. 24 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 29 at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University. The performance is $30 and free for Montclair State undergraduate students with ID.

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