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Wee, Monsieur

Back Talk


Published February 14, 2001 at 5:26 p.m.

When it comes to contemporary dance, German-based Tom Plischke is a whiz kid. He demonstrated that — literally — in a performance last Monday by urinating on stage at the Flynn. Plischke portrayed a benevolent but possibly addled innocent in a solo piece that, according to the program, concerns “coping with being in the world.” It was one of two works presented in a show of new dance from Germany and Canada. Local dancer Sarah Brutzman watched from the front row as the articulate young choreographer ran through dramatic falls, repetitive motions and quotidian gestures, such as combing his hair. But none of it prepared her for the moment he came downstage with a look of nonchalance — “like he was waiting for a subway” — and drained the main vein. “It was apparent there was no mistake, so we sort of went along with it,” she recalls. “At the same time it was like, ‘Whoa.’” Plischke went on to dance in the wet spot before dropping trou, wiping down his legs and changing into a new pair of pants. Granted, it’s not public blood-letting, which has also been done on stage, but still somewhat shocking for sit-down audiences in Burlington. “This is the second time someone has pissed on our stage, but at least the last artist had the courtesy to do it in a bucket,” artistic director Arnie Malina jokes — a good-natured reference to a past performance by the Montréal-based Compagnie Marie Chouinard. Calling Plischke “a thoughtful young artist,” Malina concedes that although his public pee made the audience uncomfortable, it also elicited empathy from the crowd, as intended. And a certain amount of wonder too. “It’s hard enough just going to a urinal,” Malina offers. “You know, some people are what they call ‘pee shy.’” Apparently they are timid about speaking their minds, too. During the post-performance question-and-answer period, not a single person asked Plischke about his unexpected artistic “accident.” Nor did anyone make the connection between his trickle-down effects and the sponsor of the show: Hydro-Quebec.

IN BRIEF: New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren was hot for a spot in the movie State and Main. Especially when director David Mamet offered him the part of a volunteer fireman — Koren is on the force in Brookfield. But prior job experience didn’t make the “extra” experience any less time-consuming. Koren and his wife, Curtis Ingham, made three trips to Massachusetts, where the film was shot. “I was a virgin extra. I mean extra virgin,” Koren says, noting the “Friend of David” status gave him a great view of the set. It’s too late to catch the movie in theaters here. But you can see the mustachioed Koren, along with a bunch of other central Vermonters — including Ingham, Charlotte Potok, Rick Levy, Alan Soule, Chris Kalder, Roy Levin, Morris LaMour and Emma Norman — when it comes out on video . . . Fundraising takes a lot of faith — and even some prayer — but it’s still hard to imagine a “liturgical arts consultant” as development director of Burlington City Arts. Fifty-eight-year-old Ray Repp is a former seminarian who authored the book of original musical compositions that led to the creation of the contemporary Christian “folk mass.” Someone’s listening. On Tuesday, City Arts got word of an anonymous $250,000 gift to support the $2.3 million capital campaign to renovate the Firehouse Gallery . . . Burlington guitarist Paul Asbell comes from good folk. His father, who died two weeks ago, was buddies with Pete Seeger and wrote “some quite good songs,” as Seeger phrased it in The New York Times obituary. Eventually, he turned from writing music to writing best-selling books about politics and government — 12 titles that include When F.D.R. Died and The Pill: A Biography of the Drug That Changed the World. The elder Asbell taught at Yale, Clark and Penn State, but never earned a college degree. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno spoke at the memorial service, and Paul played . . . It doesn’t seem like a shocking topic for a dance performance. But Annette Urbschat of Burlington vows that “faces fall” when she tells people she is making a piece about divorce. The first recipient of a Flynn “space” grant, Urbschat is translating what she calls “the most profound trauma you can go through, short of death,” into a stage show. A lot of “stages,” actually, including anger, depression, denial, bargaining and acceptance. The working title, Horse Divorce, came from a 4-year-old in a daycare center who made up the rhyme on her own. “I had a really profound reaction to that,” Urbschat says . . . Speaking of courtroom drama, busted broker Dana Giacchetto was sentenced to 59 months in prison last week for ripping off a slew of celebrity investors, including Phish. The Daily News reported last year the Vermont-based rock band had recouped its $4.7 million loss. But another article last week put Phish on a $9.9 million payback list that’s part of Giacchetto’s punishment. The official word from Phish manager John Paluska? Still “no comment.”