Review: ‘ETLE and the Anders’ Is a Sarah A.O. Rosner Take on Feminism
By Brian Siebert
[The original article can be found here.]
The “ETLE Universe” is much more than a dance show. It is — in the words of its principal creator, Sarah A. O. Rosner, director of the A. O. Movement Collective — “a queer feminist cyborg time-travel epic thing.” Among its many facets are a graphic novel, a video game, a music album, 3-D printed jewelry, photography and pornography. This past weekend at Loft 172 in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, the performance portion was fully revealed: a 90-minute production called “ETLE and the Anders.”
The story could be a feminist take on the “Terminator” movies. A cyborg (ETLE) has traveled from the future into our present to alter history. That yet-to-happen history involves an epidemic that causes women to drift through multiple dimensions of time. There’s a repressive government agency and a violent rebellion. But the crucial twist is the means the cyborg has chosen to save the world: the A. O. Movement Collective.
It’s possible to glean some of this story during the show, even as the purposefully jumbled production thwarts linearity and clarity, decrying those qualities as restrictively male. In place of coherence, the show has energy. Goaded by the live music of Idgy Dean, a one-woman band, the eager cast of 10 continually passes through the central space on multiple trajectories, sometimes hurling their bodies with great force, sometimes balancing against one another with delicacy.
None of this, though, achieves the show’s ambitions of transformative theater. When the performers are clear, earnestly lecturing on standard concepts from feminist and queer theory, they are persuasive enough, but the truth that cuts deepest comes in self-deprecating jokes.
Ms. Rosner fretfully wonders why the cyborg would choose her company and its ephemeral performances, witnessed by few, to rescue humanity. Lillie De, the company manager, explaining how ETLE has been guiding the troupe’s performances from the beginning, concedes that the idea sounds far-fetched. But, Ms. De asks, “Can you offer me a more logical explanation for why someone would make performance in this day and age?”
“ETLE and the Anders” continues through Oct. 10 at Loft 72, Brooklyn; 347-915-4790, Etle.info.
A version of this review appears in print on September 29, 2015, on page C5 of the New York edition with the headline: A Time-Traveling Cyborg Wants to Save the World.