“The moment you walk in stuff is going on around you already,” explains Jason Slavick, director of Liars & Believers’ new show, “Irresistible,” which they’ll perform for one night only, Jan. 24, at Sonia in Cambridge.
Maybe there’s video and sound. “And you sit down. The audience gathers and at some point it begins,” he says. “The dramatic moment of a dance piece starts off on a stage in front of you. As soon as it finishes, there’s video sequence that flashes behind you. Just as it finishes, three actors run in front of you doing a silly clown piece.”
When we chatted this week, the show was still being shaped, but he said pieces might include a rap about “a black man stopped by a cop,” a “resistance fashion show,” and a “live silent film black and white theater piece in the style of a Charlie Chaplin film that’s based on the #MeToo movement.”
“I never know 100 percent until right before we put it on,” says Slavick, who also serves as the Cambridge theater troupe’s artistic director. “But I can tell what I’m thinking. I feel battered by the negativity that has swallowed up our society, our political discourse. I think our only way forward is a path of empathy, a path of discourse, a path of listening. I don’t think we can heal our nation by screaming.”
“Irresistible” is what Liars & Believers calls a “coLAB,” in this case a collaboration of more than dozen actors, dancers, writers, musicians and visual artists that began discussions last fall.
“Everyone makes individual work and shares it,” their website explains. “We get into each other’s pieces, comment on the them, juxtapose them, and contradict them. We put it all together… then we drop the audience down Alice’s rabbit hole.“
“At the end, we gather together for one week with everyone in the room together to present an immersive, multimedia experience that takes the audience on a journey. We do it one time and we never do it again,” Slavick says. “So you have the room to take risks.”
The result is an experimental variety show with a point about, in this case, the #Resist movement opposing the Trump administration and the “irresistible forces” propelling the United States. Slavick describes “regressive, reactionary” and “xenophobic” conservative groups as well as #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and other liberal movements. “So we stand in the middle of these irresistible forces claiming our nation.”
Or as the group’s website explains: “In a time of turmoil, will resentment, anger, and fear tear us in opposite directions? Will our better selves triumph? Where will we and our nation end up? Deep inside us, what irresistibly pulls… and at what cost? From the Constitution to cake—from sex appeal to social construct—what is… Irresistible?”
“What we bring is the ability to create a single cohesive experience to weave all the disperate things into one journey through this multidisciplinary evening,” Slavick says. “…Hopefully we’ll end this maybe with a lighter spirit or a spirit willing to listen and try to heal rather than just fight.”