Photo via Joanne Solomon
Joanne Solomon in "Hurling Towards Earth" at the 2015 Orlando Fringe.
A few months ago while visiting New York City, I was lucky enough to experience “Wayra: Fuerza Bruta,” an enthralling environmental performance art party that involves aerial acrobatics and extreme audience participation. It’s the kind of exhilarating spectacle that makes Orlando’s shows seem sadly stale, so I can easily identify with the overwhelming emotions it triggered in Joanne Solomon when she first encountered the off-Broadway production of “De La Guarda” (Fuerza Bruta’s original incarnation) during a low point in her life.
But unlike me, the writer/star of "Hurtling Towards Earth
" responded to the show so strongly that she packed away the puppets she’d been schlepping around the Bronx and instead devoted herself to auditioning for De La Guarda, an excruciatingly extended process that she describes in agonizing detail. Eventually, she achieved her dream of joining the company and spent the next several years traveling from Las Vegas to Israel and everywhere in between, running perpendicularly across walls and shouting in Spanish for adoring global audiences.
Solomon shares some great, gruesome backstage stories about untreated broken ribs, ecstasy benders with the Blue Man Group, and getting a co-star’s teeth embedded in her forehead while hanging in mid-air. An act in which the performers repeatedly crash to the ground, only to pop right back up again, becomes a metaphor for the resilience Solomon requires as an untrained acrobat aspiring to perform alongside Olympians. She shares some sage advice that she’s picked up on her travels, like “Desperation and shiny opportunities can blind us” and “We never arrive in really dark places on our own.”
As interesting as I found many of Solomon’s anecdotes, her recurring device of reading diary entries addressed to her late mother, then slowly hanging each page on stage with a carabiner, serves to slow the pace and distance her from the audience. Solomon is a veteran of NYC’s Moth and Luna Lounge (she name-drops Amy Poehler as an ex-castmate), but at her preview performance she seemed visibly stressed and uncomfortable with her text. Hopefully she can relax her innate New York neuroticism (another trait I can empathize with) and loosen up enough to let these high-flying recollections really soar.
"Hurtling Towards Earth"
Joanne Solomon - Brooklyn, NY
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: 18 and up