A labyrinth is a concept with inherent range. Still, it’s remarkable that two new works at the Source Festival have taken the notion of the labyrinth in such different directions.
Jennifer Fawcett’s diligently constructed full-length play “Buried Cities” returns repeatedly to the image of a maze on the Mediterranean island of Crete. A bewildering tangle of potentially dangerous passageways, the structure is known to ancient-myth buff Louis (McCaul Baggett) as the site once associated with the Minotaur. Louis’s nephew Brandon (Frank Cervarich) has discovered an identical, albeit virtual, environment in the far reaches of a violent video game. Meanwhile, Louis’s marriage to Maya (Yesenia Iglesias) is disintegrating in the aftermath of a break-in at their home, and college student Leah (Lee Gerstenhaber) is brooding over her own family’s history in Crete. As all four characters wrestle with personal demons, the labyrinth archetype begins to speak of loss, trauma and the burdening nature of the past. (Ryan Maxwell directed the strongly acted production, which also deals cannily with the hot-button issue of guns.)
For a wholly different kind of labyrinth, check out “Entanglement,” a short dance/theater piece created in response to “Buried Cities.” One of the Festival’s three “artistic blind dates”— works collaboratively devised by artists from different disciplines — “Entanglement” unfurls beneath a cat’s cradle of a white clothesline pinned with garments and photos of people. Moving meditatively, creator-performers Claire Alrich, Maryam Foye and Britney Mongold drape multicolored fabric across the floor to create a mazelike framework, occasionally delivering lines that seem to recall beloved family members. The maze begins to symbolize the web of choices, influences and memories that make up any given life, but the intricate structure also suggests love, gratitude and empowerment.
The contrast between the two labyrinth evocations is a testament to the potential of the Source Festival’s current format. The festival, which runs through July 3, features three full-length plays, each of which has inspired an “artistic blind date” and a showcase of 10-minute plays. Each of the three groupings has its own theme: Fawcett’s “Buried Cities” generated the “Heroes and Home” programming; Georgette Kelly’s full-length play “Ballast” is responsible for “Dreams and Discord”; and Tom Horan’s “Static” gave rise to “Secrets and Sound.”
By emphasizing common motifs, the slightly elaborate setup has the advantage of demonstrating how idiosyncratic the creative process can be. One artist’s Minotaur haunt is another’s maze-shaped haven.
Or take the plays in the “Dreams and Discord” category. “Ballast,” the work that served as the category’s springboard, deals with the themes of dreamlife, the transgender experience and alternative life choices. (“Ballast” is labeled a “workshop production” and was not officially open for review.) The corresponding six 10-minute plays include several sobering meditations on romantic partnerships and decision, as well as Brett Hursey’s appealingly quirky “Riding Lessons,” about a guy who goes through life accompanied by a familiar spirit who happens to be an annoying clown.
The strongest playlet is arguably Francesca Pazniokas’s “Everlast,” whose portrait of two cheerful, chatty mountain climbers gradually begins to reveal disturbing depths.
“Ballast” also has inspired “Crossroads,” an “artistic blind date” splicing of dance, music, text and projections that is created and performed by DeLesslin George-Warren, Jane Rabinovitz and Brittney Sankofa. In the case of this well-intentioned but somewhat trying piece — as so often happens with riffs on non-waking life — a little bit of dream narrative goes a very long way.
1835 14th St. NW.
Call 866-811-4111 or visit sourcefestival.org.
Dates: Through July 3.