by Jeff Grygny
As you’re taking your seat in the cozy quarters of Sunstone Studios, Sarah Moore is already onstage, stretching, loosening up, rolling on a yoga ball. A whiteboard reads something like: “I’m just warming up. The show will start soon!” By this simple act, Moore immediately establishes a friendly, informal relationship with the audience of her provocative, compelling, and often quite funny one-woman show, One Universe: she communicates what’s going on while we get accustomed to her powerful, personable physicality.
A puckish, well-muscled woman, old enough to have raised children into adults, Moore is the co-owner of The Pink House, a venerable fixture of Riverwest’s bohemian community, host for yoga, ecstatic dance, and women’s healing. The show is a series of stories and set pieces, most kin maybe to one of Spalding Gray’s gripping autobiographical monologues, but coming from a considerably more grounded place. In the course of the 90 and some minute show, she re-enacts the Big Bang by busting out of a cardboard box, and shows us how she learned to make fire on a year-long (!) nature immersion where almost everything apparently was made from materials at hand (“There were a lot of conflicts’). She teaches us a little song to sing later on; she mixes stories from her life with flights of imagination, as when travels back in time and assumes superpowers to attempt to save her loved ones from violence, only to discover that every trauma began in some earlier trauma. “I’ve been thinking much too small,” she realizes. Not even a superhero can mend this broken world by herself.
Oh yes, and she calmly announces that she’s going to undress, and proceeds to casually stand before us naked, talking about her body in a way that would be brutal if it wasn’t so guileless and matter-of-fact. She accepts and loves herself as she is: a conscious organism living in the cosmos; a woman; a mother; a daughter; a human being—and herself. Second wave feminists made much of the idea of “writing through the body” to counter the arid abstractions of patriarchal discourse. Moore shows us thinking through the body: each vignette seems to flow organically into the next, the connective tissue being her own, unrushed, embodied rhythms. In her climactic dance, which follows a moving tribute to her mother, her strong arms and hands seem to grab and twist space itself, like a sculptor trying to mold the world’s clay closer to the heart’s desire.
There’s no reason at all to think that the persona she presents in One Universe is anything but herself: she’s candid about just about anything you could imagine, frankly and without embarrassment—or self-seriousness—just a kind of earthy, elfin amusement. Still, with her extraordinary charisma and confidence, she does seem like sort of a superhero— someone who shows up in the apocalypse with just the knowledge and skills to save you from disaster. Through years of yoga, dance, motherhood, and contact with nature, she has become so knowledgeable in her body that she seems like a new kind of human, both like and unlike very old ways of being human: an alternative to our modern, conflicted, overthinking selves.
I think Moore’s intention in this tour-de-force is to model a way of being for us in these tremendously challenging times: to embrace both the pain and the joy of living, realizing that they can’t really be separated; to be clear-sighted, present, and unfazed: “fiercely OK.”
Cooperative Performance presents
Devised and performed by Sarah Moore
Playing through April 16
“Content warning: contains mature content and nudity.”
“COVID-19 policy: A properly-fitting mask and either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result are required for admittance to ONE UNIVERSE.”
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