Stephen Brown, the mastermind behind SBDance, is nothing if not fearless. He's always pushing ideas and boundaries. Maybe it's piles of newspapers as costumes. Maybe it's asking his dancers to perform in the nude. Maybe it's embracing stage musicals, or hand puppets, or steel troughs floating on a sea ping pong balls, or experimental specimens. Or maybe it's abandoning the "dance" in SBDance and embracing your inner playwright. That's pretty much the case in his latest work, Yoga Confidential: A Rat Bastard's Inside Guide to Yoga and Surrounding Regions. And while I miss the dancing, Yoga Confidential is a good show.
The play was part of Salt Lake Acting Company's first ever Fearless Fringe Festival. Yoga Confidential qualifies as fringe (although Stephen Brown has been delightfully on the fringe of Utah's art scene for sometime). It's a rewarding play. Funny, strange, and all about yoga. I know Stephen Brown as a choreographer and that's where I've appreciated his work most. But he's a good writer too. And for the first time I can remember, Stephen worked with a director (Winnie Wood) who brought extra clarity and intrigue to the story.
You've got to know a lot more about yoga than I do to understand all the intricacies of this story. But what I love about the play is that Stephen (who is an established yoga instructor) treats the subject with both love and hatred. He laughs at the silliness of the whole affair while still respecting the traditions. He asks us to wonder whether or not the whole things is a sham, yet still recognizes the benefits it brings to life. All in all, it's an even-handed take on yoga, particularly from a guy who's using the playbill to promote "an affordable winter get-away for all levels of surfer and yoga practitioner" in Playa Grande, Costa Rica. I love a showman.
I can't end this post without noting the cast. Stephen was joined on stage by Daniel Beecher and Tracie Merrill both of whom were excellent. I particularly enjoyed the charm and humor of Mr. Beecher.
As always, SBDance performances are fleeting. But you still have two more chances to catch this show. It's playing at the Sugar Space on September 10 and 11.
Oh, and one more thing; while Stephen is a good writer, I still like him best as a choreographer. So Stephen, consider this my vote to bring back the dance in SBDance.