Thursday, September 22, 2011

Between Acts: Cornflower

The Ashland theater has a Green Show in addition to the other main stages. The Green Show is out in the central plaza and is used for street acts, commedia dell'arte, and musicians. In short, it is the warmup crew on early summer evenings, a theatrical amuse-bouche before the main event .

Apparently for the performance before Pirates, the act was supposed to be a hip hop and break dancing team. However, Hurricane Irene intervened, screwing up travel plans, so when we did the will call for our tickets for all these plays, we were told that a beat boxer named Cornflower would be performing instead.

OK. I don't know if I would put beat boxing into a Shakespearean venue, but hey, its cool. For that matter, I don't know if I could define beat boxing before this evening.

What we got was a lanky young man named Cornflower with incredibly long light brown dreads, knotted in a huge bun, with most of them hanging down the back. He was there with his microphone, speakers and what I guess I would call a sampling board, operated by foot pedals. And that's it. The performer (beat boxer?) would lay down a beat with a tonal thumping, record it, let the sampler repeat the base beat and then harmonize with himself, looping new wordless lyrics. Then harmonize again, and again, changing and molding the song as he goes along. An electronic one-man-band.

It sounds odd, but it was amazingly effective. Cornflower transformed the Green Show into a mini arts festival, with people dancing and children running around and people joining in (its not as if you don't know the words). Yes, the LB wanted a CD afterwards, and I think Mr. Cornflower was surprised by the turnout. If you want more, head over to his website, where he has some performance videos and more information.

More later,