[63] GLOW (Kaleid Theatre): Fringe review

Kalied, GLOW, ensemble, phto Valerie Giacobbe

Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez, Samantha Rose Schwab, Nina Giacobbe, and Ashley Alter in Kaleid Theatre’s GLOW (Photo credit: Valerie Giacobbe)

Though we’re all connected 24/7 via cell phones, Facebook, email, texting, and blogging, there is a human disconnect in our current state of existence, in our need to validate ourselves through virtual friends, and in the anonymity of electronic posts and cyber-bullying in lieu of face-to-face interactions. An ensemble-devised exploration of the nature of our obsession with digital devices and social media, Kaleid Theatre’s GLOW employs movement, voice, sound, and imagery in an impactful piece on a bare stage that challenges our present direction and confronts the effects that this addictive technology has on the mass psychology of our culture and on the lives of its individual users.

The four female creators/performers (Ashley Alter, Nina Giacobbe, Rachel O’Hanlon Rodriguez, and Samantha Rose Schwab) are of the Millennial Generation, so the concept keenly reflects their experiences growing up in the digital age of gadgetry junkies and their unedited over-sharing of personal events, attitudes, and emotions. Among the most effective devices employed in GLOW is the ensemble’s visualization of hostile comments and verbal violence as actualized physical confrontation; tearing out the pages of a dictionary and throwing the words at each other, just as unknown “friends” do online; and writing on one another in indelible black marker as a metaphor for the permanence in cyberspace of what you say and post. Kaleid’s repetition of segments of movement and dialogue, though a bit long, is a clever reminder of the limitless re-tweets, shares, and threads of comments that reappear and reverberate ad infinitum, which create an identity for us that we might not really want, with regrettable consequences for our future. [First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia], September 20-21, 2013, fringearts.ticketleap.com/glow.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.