Sarah Llewellyn lists herself as “an innovative performer, dancer, director, contortionist, singer, and yogi”. Her production SECRETS OUT which concluded the Lighting Series at the Electric Lodge, incorporated most of her talents. The performance involved a series of vignettes that examined peoples’ fears, insecurities, shame and hidden vices. The production, cast’s performances and the execution of the skits were uneven, but Llewellyn succeeded in exposing personal and social secrets with satire, symbolism and raw portrayals.
Llewellyn studied and performed with the late Los Angeles based interdisciplinary artist Rachel Rosenthal. Rosenthal (1926-2015) was one of the “first-generation feminist artists” who inspired artists worldwide, including Turkish choreographer Mehmet Sander.
The audience walked into the theater to see a woman dressed as a janitor vacuuming a large white throw-rug. This same actress, Dayna Riesgo, acted as crew person in-between skits, and she was perfect for this part. Riesgo went about her duties of vacuuming, sweeping, moving parts of the set around and occasionally making facial statements regarding the debris left behind with dead pan directness. She is a pro who never once dropped character.
The permanent set consisted of an old, white wooden door with a small grassy patch, a tiny white picket fence lined with flowers and a blue bathroom stall located on the opposite side of the stage. The white picket fence, of course, is an iconic symbol of the all-American suburban lifestyle. The stall acted as a private place to hide sexual acts and personal disorders.
The first skit involved most of the cast members dressed as the rich and famous. They entered one at a time, removed their shoes, and stood on the pristine white carpet. They posed, mugged for imaginary photographers, and pretended to enjoy one another’s company. In walks a non-elite with his manure soiled boots who proudly invades and ignores their turf.
A young girl, Torian Garbarino, leaves a trail of breadcrumbs to find her way home, but later her adult version discovers that she can never recapture her childhood. Those crumbs leading back have long been swept away. We hear the inner thoughts of three young performers auditioning for a show that expose their low self-esteem and insecurities. Llewellyn demonstrates how we may project a certain image to the world, but that it is not necessarily the truth. In one of her films, a woman watches the world go by without her; unable to share herself with others.
Llewellyn used humor to drive home serious defects of character. A man, played by Sethward Allison, comes in toting a stationary bike; his focused on chasing the almighty dollar. Humor is used to take on a young woman’s battle with Bulimia, whereas other serious issues such as alcoholism were depicted more directly. Llewellyn is an optimist and, spoiler alert, there’s a happy ending to SECRETS OUT as issues get resolved.
Llewellyn performed, directed and curated SECRETS OUT with the help of her Assistant Director, Chanel Pepper. She also acted as videographer, and set/lighting/costume designer. Although admirable, there is a downside to doing everything oneself. Loose ends do not get tied in place and important details are ignored like rough film editing, distracting backstage noises, sight-lines not covered so that the actors are seen out-of-character backstage, or long and awkward pauses between scenes. Llewellyn is very talented. Her inclinations are spot on and most of her skits worked. Lacking was an outside eye and a demanding rehearsal director.
The talented cast members included: Sarah Llewellyn, Chanel Pepper, Dayna Griego, Deirdra Angelucci, Dagne Aikin, Michael Soldati, Christiane Georgi, Zoe Kirkpatrick, Bethany Burns, Matt Kiel, Peter Stratte, Roger Fojas, Torian Garbarino, Sethward, Henry Garibay, (Jenifer Shields in video).