Like a haunted house, or carnival attraction set up by children, there is a unique sense of innocent wonder lurking around every corner of Brooke O’Harra’s I'm Bleeding All Over the Place: A Living History Tour (at La MaMa from June 16-26, 2016). Part of Ms. O’Harra’s larger project I’m Bleeding All Over the Place: Studies in Directing and Nine Encounters Between Me and You, this installment focuses largely on the relationship between the artist and her audience. As patrons gather in the lobby of the Ellen Stewart Theatre, an actor playing Ms. O’Harra (the inquisitively charming Tanya Selvaratnam played her at the first performance on the 16th) informs them that what they are about to see is a piece through which she desires to study two obsessions: her need to satisfy audience members - despite her better knowledge that art will never be as pleasing as intercourse - and her strange desire to want to punch people in the face.
If it seems one of those things is not like the other (which one is more primal depends on the eye of the beholder), the show is a love song to the id unlike anything else that audiences have seen in 2016. To reveal too much about what goes on once you make it past the lobby of the theater, and into the actual space, would be unfair since many of the show’s disturbing pleasures come in its many surprises. From up close encounters with cast members who are so perfect at playing their parts you often wonder where the performance begins and the actor ends, to O’Harra’s literal attempt to try and capture a memory in a physical manner (her recreation of how a mental loop might manifest is brilliant), there is much more than blood in the show, there are dreams, soulful anecdotes and revelatory insights on the art of creating.
I'm Bleeding All Over the Place: A Living History Tour also holds the distinct honor of being one of those shows you can’t help but quote after leaving the theater. The “make meaning with me” motif repeated both like a battle cry and a desperate plea, should be put on t-shirts, caps and pens. What an irony that as Ms. O’Harra dreams of finding a solution to her creative conundrums and existential issues, she might very well be sending people home in a state of utter bliss.