Close your eyes, imagine yourself, not how you look to the outside world but how you look on the inside. Now turn to the person next to you and observe them in silence for one minute. Feel uncomfortable? nervous? giddy? This is how Emma Crane Jaster’s Fringe piece To Know A Veil begins. Oh, and did I mention you are essentially getting directions from shapeless ghosts, every one of the seven performing women is wearing a burka. When we are allowed to take our seats again, after murmuring to our new friend the three things we noticed about them first, the performance begins.
The dance and physical theater piece deals with women’s desires, fears, and questions about how we cover and uncover our bodies. It ranges from modeling in burkas to learning how to wrap our heads in different styles of veils to party games confessing some of your dark secrets (how many times have you been naked in public, for instance). Ms. Jaster’s piece started while traveling in Morocco. She had a strong visceral reaction to seeing veiled women and decided to puzzle out why it made her so uncomfortable. She began researching and exploring the topic to eventually put together this piece. Uncomfortable? Yes. Hilarious? At times. Enlightening? Possibly.
... an excellent job of conveying the piece’s serious and more lighthearted moments.
Ms. Jaster’s amazingly exuberant energy kept everyone in the theater engaged, despite some audience members trying to shrink into their seats (your writer being one of them). The piece was composed by Matt Pearson with original beats by DC musician Unown. The beats were unremarkable but didn’t detract from the piece. The audio experience was primarily quotes played over the beats from women Ms. Jaster interviewed in her research about veiling, the meaning of veils in society, and women’s fashion. The performers were Emma Crane Jaster, Kate Folsom, Rachel Hynes, Leslie McConnaughey, Neelam Patel, Naima Ramos-Chapman, and Stacy Wilson. They all did an excellent job of conveying the piece’s serious and more lighthearted moments.
My recommendation is if you are someone who jumps up at the mention of party games, go. If, however, you find yourself slipping out the door early, this show is probably not for you.
Running Time: 120 minutes, no intermission, but free snacks!
Advisory: ages 13 & up, with nudity and profanity.
To Know A Veil has two more shows Sunday July 14th at 4pm and Wednesday July 17th at 6pm at the Warehouse, located at 645 New York Ave NW in Washington, DC. For tickets click here.