Cervantes’ Classic ‘Don Quixote’ Reimagined at Montclair State (Review)

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Published March 29, 2017
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The Montclarion
Photo courtesy of Gennadi Novash

Photo courtesy of Gennadi Novash

A staple of Montclair State University’s theatrical offerings is Peak Performances, an effort that brings a wide range of international and national interdisciplinary artists and productions to campus, fostering a greater understanding of artistic exploration and creativity among students and residents of Montclair’s surrounding areas. Peak Performances is known for their abstract and unique displays, and this past weekend’s showing, “Quixote,” was no exception.

Commissioned by Peak Performances and based on Miguel de Cervantes’ classic tale “Don Quixote,” “Quixote” breaks all boundaries in the dramatic account of a man losing his sanity. As opposed to being an exact retelling of Cervantes’ story, the show pairs avant-garde imagery with haunting music to explore the character and his descent into madness.

Much of the imagery on stage was a representative of events in Quixote’s life, such as his love shown as a wilting flower and his horse as a large percussion instrument. The show not only used actors and musicians, but also projected poetic words onto the backdrop and used shadows to indicate important moments in the character’s memory.

The show starred Mark DeChiazza, who also acted as the director and the designer of the piece. In addition to DeChiazza, the show featured a soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto and four singing percussionists from the HOWL ensemble and Sandbox Percussion, respectively. The music was composed by Amy Beth Kirsten and was written specifically for this piece.

While the show received mixed reviews from audience members, it perfectly captured the challenging and artistic ideals Peak Performances is known for. If the show is any indication of the shows that will be commissioned by Peak Performances in the future, the next is not to be missed.

 

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