Way West

On Wednesday I took in the first night of Way West. First there was the novelty of the venue as I have not been to the Vertigo Theatre before. I like the display of the old Calgary Herald building stonework recessed in the walls of the lobby. Then there was the novelty of seeing three western choreographers strut their stuff.  Shay Kuebler, who performed twice from original works of choreography, was worth the price of admission and had by far the most compelling act of the evening. Computer Stare is an excerpted solo from a larger work called KAROSHI – the Japanese term for “death from overwork”, which seems an entirely appropriate work to showcase in corporate Calgary.

Upon the stage are a table, a computer screen, a chair and Keubler in his white shirt and tie. We hear the sound of the cubicle jungle tap tapping on the keyboard in the background.  Lines of small type scroll across Keubler's face. Soon things begin going wrong with the computer. Grating noise blasts out and Keubler's character responds like a one man martial arts team fighting aliens and demon computer spirits. He pounds the computer to fix it and temporarily resumes typing. We watch an ever-growing blood red font march across the entirety of Keubler’s face and then…more violence. Our hero fights the conforming pressure laid upon him by the computer, that has become like malevolent HAL from 2001 Space Odyssey, enacting psychological and physical pain upon Keubler.

I'm very possibly reading into the work what may not in fact be there - but such are the delights of dance and interpreting it for oneself. Shay Keubler is a magnetic performer, athletic, with a coiled power that exhilarates the audience when it’s released. When he slams the computer with his fist, we say, “Here, here”. After the computer wreaks its vengeance, assaulting Keuble with sinister blasts of electric fuzz and white noise, our compassion is for the man who, bludgeoned and barely standing, understands where the controlling power truly resides.


Watch the Karoshi trailer and see excerpts of Computer Stare.



GUEST BLOGGER:Sandra Sawatzky is an artist and filmmaker.