Thursday, September 14th – 7:30-9:30 pm
Bob Ernst: towards/away

For a Bob Ernst bio, visit
https://www.altertheater.org/about2

bob-the 6th copy

towards/away… The focus intensifies as the periphery disperses. Our hero is a stranger in a strange land. He finds himself running for his life in an alien landscape being pursued by something or someone he can’t quite make out. “Am I running towards, or am I running away or am I running towards away?” Fear, and a bit of the blues propels him further on into the desert, towards—? In the final moments, the periphery expands. a poetic narrative, accompanied by a percussion score and other exotic instrumentation, all rolled up tight into the personification of “one tiny, spec of hu-man”. Warning: he does get physical. Like the man says; “Do not go gentle into that good night.”

Bob Ernst inhabits a stage as a world of his own devising. Nothing is predictable and everything is possible. He shunts, grunts and howls onomatopoeias before switching to swift prose, the energy of physical theatre and multi-instrumental incursions. Everything seems spontaneous and conjured in the moment, which keeps the audience gripped in a state between extreme intrigue and underlying nervousness. Hooked in the moment, nobody can guess what he will do next – and there is a worry that whatever it is, it might happen in direct proximity to and may even involve the individual audience member. But it is in the shifts in mood and intensity where you can catch glimpses of the real genius of the protagonist. For a split second, as he changes direction and scrutinizes the audience, you can see the intelligence behind the roving eye and you realize that this is more orchestrated than improvised. We are in the presence of a very gifted, smart and experienced theatrical brain who knows how to play an audience in the same way that he manipulates and changes the contours, direction and intensity of his own body and performance. Audiences are instinctively on-edge in the presence of Bob Ernst because that is how he wants them to be. But students of acting and performance art can also take a step back from the experience to observe and hopefully learn some of the fundamental lessons of stagecraft from a master of the form, — Andrew Wood

Co-founder of The Iowa Theater Lab (1968-1972). First solo performance at 2019 Blake St. in Berkeley in 1973. In 1975, co-founded The Blake St. Hawkeyes, a theater collective devoted to ensemble and the development of original works. During this time, also created a half dozen more solo works. In 1984, won a Dramalogue for best director and best over-all production for the musical, Tokens. In 1987, performed a solo that lasted for for 24 hours and 12 minutes. which was voted one of the “Best 10” performances of the year by Dennis Harvey/Boulevards. His pocket opera, Catherine’s Care at Alter-Theater was voted Best of the Year by The Guardian in 2007.