Fuerza Bruta: Meaningless Sights & Sounds

courtesy of Fuerza Bruta Press

For nearly three years, I walked past the Daryl Roth Theater every day on my way into work and reminded myself that I should see Fuerza Bruta, the show by Diqui James that originated in Argentina and has been performed at the Roth since 2007.  Last week, I finally saw this fragmented, mindless spectacle.  I’m glad I did, because now I can honestly tell others who are considering seeing Fuerza Bruta (Brute Force, in English) that they can skip it, unless they’re entertained by one or more of the following:

-Being herded around and told where it’s permissible to stand, which to me, does not qualify as audience participation

-A club-like scene with predictable visual stimulation, techno music, and mediocre choreography

-A man endlessly running on a treadmill who gets violently shot in the chest (don’t worry, he lives), without ever learning why or from what he’s running

-Performers who repeatedly smash Styrofoam over each other’s heads

-Jumping up and down while a DJ, looking ridiculous in a George Washington wig, sprays you with a water hose

courtesy of Fuerza Bruta press

The plot-less performance, which mainly took place overhead while the audience stood on the floor for the duration of the show, strung together special effects and a few technical feats set to a constantly thumping beat.  The most original section involved a clear pool that descended from overhead until it reached just above the audience’s heads.  Four female performers splashed around, slid in diagonals across the pool, and made rippling designs with the water.  This went on for far too long, and though the performers looked like they were having a ball, it became irritating to stand and watch without being invited to join the fun.  Perhaps this was why Fuerza Bruta was so unsatisfying.  The performers were having much more fun than the audience, and sadly, jumping up and down didn’t transport us into their world.

I have immense admiration for the creative team – for their ability to come up with some of the more intriguing concepts – and especially for the hardworking crew members who directed the audience and ensured that the show ran smoothly.  But I pity the myriad tourists – and handful of New Yorkers – who are impressed by Fuerza Bruta and view it as well-crafted art.  In truth, it’s one-dimensional, uninspiring entertainment.

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4 Responses to Fuerza Bruta: Meaningless Sights & Sounds

  1. Alex says:

    I agree that it was pretty meaningless when I saw the show last year and I certainly wouldn’t call it well crafted art but I did find it very entertaining. Sometimes I just want visual stimulation and to dance in the rain without having to see or feel any meaning and I think they were more than effective at that. Though I think I qualify for nearly all of your bulleted points haha.

  2. Caleb says:

    I have to say that I really disagree. Fuerza Bruta represents the ideology that life is only random aesthetic experiences without meaning or plot. The program notes say “… it does not invent anything, it does not have a purpose, it is.” which is a valid ideology and represented well in the piece. It’s only a failure if you assume that experiences need to have some meaning or purpose. I think they make their point pretty well and in an enjoyable way. It has to be the least pretentious way of embodying nihilism in performance. I think that’s brilliant.

  3. Evan says:

    Alex and Caleb – thanks for the comments. It seems like most people loved Fuerza Bruta, so I’m in the minority. I certainly wasn’t actively looking for meaning in the show (though it would have been nice to see some sort of progression or thread), nor do I think that all experiences or art must have meaning. In fact, some of my favorite ballets and works of visual art are abstract and/or plot-less! But Fuerza Bruta left me cold. Sure, visual stimulation on its own can be fun once in a while, but this show didn’t make me “ooh” and “ahh” the way other audience members did. Oh well.

  4. Progman says:

    Thank You!!!! I went to see it last night. It was grand….yes I appreciate the spectacle but I can’t see what all the hype is about!!! You articulated exactly the relative indifference I experienced! Thanks

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