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Indy Eleven Theater
United States
Indianapolis, IN
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In Holter’s “Prowess” a slice of Chicago resonates with Indianapolis realities

by Rita Kohn
July 3, 2018
Indy Eleven Theater
719 E St Clair Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 522-8099
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
Ike Holter’s gut-wrenching-sly-humor propelling “Prowess” might as well be pegged as dance theatre, in this fine production by Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis. The demands on the quartet of actors is what we expect from a ballet or a contemporary work with four principal dancers pushing the tension between words and movement beyond what the human body should be expected to endure. Those preyed upon in the process of transforming themselves into super heroic vigilantes ultimately recognize their actions as perpetuating the very thing they want eradicated.

Justice and Mercy dance around the issues of surviving in parts of Chicago here and now. The foursome mercilessly beat up on each other in pursuit of toughening up so as to exact revenge upon the aggressors who maimed their souls, violated their bodies, killed their friends, robbed their dignity.

Ike Holter is for Chicago what August Wilson is for Pittsburgh, and for both, performance is movement in space to the rhythm of life unfolding to the melodic cadence of speech. Vocal inflection is twinned with nuances of body language, each enveloped in the tempo of cityscape.

From the top, the spatial relationships between Zora [Paeton Chavis], Mark [Jamaal McCray], Andy [Zachariah Stonerock], and Jax [Donovan Whitney] bristles with tension and release in the deliberately confining setting imbedded upon the small IndyEleven stage at the IndyFringeTheatre.

Holter reveals the relationships as one peals off an onion’s layers to get to its innermost essence. Directed by Ronan Marra, with fight direction by Rob Johansen, aggression sucks the air out of the space; constantly shifting power flecks off like ambient light in moods of blue coddled with magenta. The incessant roll of the Red Line heightens the urgencies of peril, fear, self loathing, entrapment, played out as much by the choreographed movement as by the parrying of words. Single-mindedness toward gaining ’prowess’ is as tortuous as the inflicted hurts.

This is a script, where, as in dance, the costume, the set, the properties, the lighting, the breathing, the technical skill, compound to define the characters, the story, the moral. We begin with the litany of violence, its disregard. Empowerment in the form of fantasy plays out as critically here as in any Greek, Roman, Norse myth brought to life. Holter asks, what, after all, is the power of an emergent superhero, foolishly impervious to harm when dressed in garb fashioned to throw fear into the other camp? Indeed, the dance circles around the heart of the matter—WHEN is someone going to do something about the violence. Missing is the naming of WHO.

Adding to the excellence of production values are: technical director Jazmine Floyd Casey, stage manager Melinda Arthur, fight captain Katie Horwitz, scenic designer Ivana Vukomanovic, costume designer Kayla Carroll, lighting designer Tony Stoeri, composer/sound designer Anthony Ingram and properties master Andrew Runyon.
Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis in Ike Holter’s “Prowess”.

Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis in Ike Holter’s “Prowess”.

Photo © & courtesy of Photographer Unknown

Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis in Ike Holter’s “Prowess”.

Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis in Ike Holter’s “Prowess”.

Photo © & courtesy of Photographer Unknown

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