by Paula Citron.
Composed, directed and performed by Mikel Rouse
At Factory Theatre
The Luminato Festival presented American composer, director and performer Mikel Rouse and his trilogy of media operas.
Dennis Cleveland is about the decline of the West. The End of Cinematics imagines the possibilities of 21st century film, while Failing Kansas uses Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood as its wellspring.
It was Failing Kansas that I was able to fit into my busy Luminato schedule, and Rouse turned out to be a unique creator. As grainy black and white images of the 1950s showed behind him, Rouse moved between four prepared microphones singing, chanting, and rhythmically speaking. The live performance was layered over a sampled soundscape of text and music.
The sum total of Failing Kansas is a poetic stream of consciousness that takes the audience into the disordered minds of the killers with abstract commentary from Rouse.
The rhythmic cadence of Rouse’s live performance was mesmerizing, and the effect was transportation to another astral plane. Nothing made sense, yet everything did.