And the show had begun. Four women on a stage. Crawling on the floor under a blanket. Furniture suspended from the ceiling. A layer of something called scrim. A topless woman. They are dancing. No, they are singing. No, they are talking. Are they sisters? Strangers? A mother and daughter? Wait, now it’s a show about Oprah. There is a pulsing noise in the background. Two scenes are happening at the same time. They are repeating an entire segment. From above, the furniture looks like a normal room. Some of the stage is flipped, so when actors are lying down and they are shown in a camera from above they look like they are sitting. They ripped the scrim. One of the women is wearing a glittery suit. They are playing with a light. The lights turn off and the show is over.
To say that Okwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room at On the Boards’ contemporary performance center was abstract may be an understatement; the show itself was a hypnotic, metaphoric emulsion of dance, song, monologue, and conversation. Describing the show is quite a burdensome task, as it was such a unique and shocking performance. The four women in the performance were made up of a multigenerational team of African and African American women. However, each performer was not a distinct character. Instead, the character each woman played fluctuated and changed until each woman was the other three women. Not only was the lack of distinct character a unique choice for the production, but the dancing was as well. The dancing was high energy and abstract, as some women danced alone and some danced with each other—though these partner and solo dances often happened at the same time of course.