The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News


Are you bored on Earth? There’s another world to visit this weekend – a planet where the arts are not just fun, but biologically essential to life itself.

Your interstellar journey begins at Vineyard Haven, outside the historic Capawock Theatre, where choreographers-performers-producers Abby Bender and Jesse Jason opened their new show Wish You Were Here last Friday night.

Wish You Were Here continues this Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. with an afternoon performance on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Another imaginative work in the vein of Rizing, the creative duo’s Halloween production last year, Ms. Bender and Ms. Jason’s new show tells a shaggy dog ​​space story through a vaudevillian mix of mime, radio drama, stand-up comedy, audio collage, live tables, karaoke and even a simulation of TedX talk, complete with whiteboard.

But the core of their work is always dance, and Wish You Were Here has some uplifting moments. One of them comes at the very beginning of the play, so it’s important to be on time. However, it is not necessary to arrive early at the Capawock, as everyone is admitted at the same time. That’s because Wish You Were Here begins by transporting the audience through a wormhole in space – no matter how, it’s a spoiler – to arrive on a planet that only Ms. Bender can pronounce.

Co-creators, Abby Bender and Jesse Jason. — Ray Ewing

“Did you really think you were purposely wandering into a theater?” she asked from the stage.

Ms. Bender and Ms. Jason play a pair of choreographers who meet when they are both locked on the planet by its all-female inhabitants to help create the next generation via asexual reproduction, which can only take place when these women of space are truly enchanted by the arts.

The resulting revue, featuring dancers Hannah Burbidge, Nia Dubon-Robinson, Laura Sargent Hall and Claire Page as glowing green aliens, makes full use of the Capawock’s facilities, with performers popping up – sometimes quite literally – from the seats. , projection booth and other unexpected places.

Although avant-garde in design, Wish You Were Here – like other Bender/Jason works – steers clear of intellectuals, with more Spice Girls than Mozart in a musical line-up that also included Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre and Pat Benatar.

The puns, puns and rimshot-worthy one-liners abound, prompting frequent laughs during last Saturday’s performance from an audience whose age range seemed to start around 11.

Unlike their somewhat spooky and earnest Rizing ThRough, the duo’s May 2021 response to the Covid pandemic, Wish You Were Here is lighthearted from start to finish. Saturday’s hour-long show ended with a round trip through the wormhole, after which audience members were offered food in the form of individual bags of popcorn.

Wish You Were Here is a program from the new Built on Stilts Collective, an extension of Ms. Bender’s Built on Stilts fall festival, which returns for its 26th season August 11-13 and August 20-22 at Union Chapel in Oak. Bluffs.

Ms. Jason’s next project, titled Process: A Collaborative Creation and presented by Pathways Arts, will take place July 16 at Tisbury Waterworks. The event will bring together writers, musicians and artists from the movement, with Ms. Jason as host, to create a new work in one day.

Tickets for Wish You Were Here are available online at


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