SHE ALONE directed by Hillar Liitoja, with Magdalena Vasko. Presented by DNA Theatre (133 Bathurst). Previews January 6-7, opens January 9 and runs to January 21. Pwyc-$20 (seating very limited). See Opening, page 56. 416-504-5099, www.dnatheatre.com. Rating: NNNNN
If you want to know what she Alone, Hillar Liitoja's latest unclassifiable piece, is all about, just show up. The artistic director of DNA Theatre isn't now and never has been into explaining things.
"All alone in her room" she wakes up and" what is wrong?'" Liitoja quotes verbatim from the terse show description on his company's website.
"I can't go any further than that," he says, a tad testily. "What am I going to do? Tell you what I think is wrong? Then why bother coming to see it? It's not like a murder mystery. The whole point of the piece is that it's live and you're there."
True enough. Liitoja's known for enigmatic works among them Paula And Karl and The Observation that blur the line between theatre, performance art and installation.
She Alone takes place in a room in Liitoja's own home, a few buildings north of the Factory Theatre. A small audience watches Magdalena Vasko, the "she" of the title, from a door and an aperture in the wall.
"There's no script, no words," says Liitoja, "and even though Magdalena is a ballerina, it's not a dance piece. We're trying to wipe out any traces of her ballerinaness."
Liitoja's playfully evasive about the work's genesis. He tells me it was inspired by Vasko when he worked with her on 2004's I Know And Feel That Fate Is Harsh But I Am So Loath To Accept This, subtitled a "radical ballet."
"Something very special happened during rehearsals, and I was electrified," he says. "So was she. We've never forgotten what happened. Then maybe a year later, I asked her if she remembered it. She did. And I knew I wanted to make a piece for her, on her."
Liitoja's obviously not concerned about profits. Audiences are limited to nine ("We'll consider a show sold out at seven, just in case Stephen Harper wants to come!" he jokes). Even if all 16 performances sell out, the total audience wouldn't fill a mid-sized theatre.
"That's what arts councils are for," he says. "This is the type of work we're supposed to be supporting.
"What's really crucial is the performer/audience ratio. If you have too many people in an environmental piece like this, your experience is reduced; it's less intimate."