Body/Courage Review - A Funny and Thoughtful Exploration of Body Image

 

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, in conjunction with Waltzing Mechanics, presents the world premiere of Body/Courage, written and performed by Danielle Pinnock and directed by RTE member Megan Carney. This one-woman show weaves together Pinnock’s personal journey of self-acceptance with verbatim selections from over 300 interviews she has conducted on the topic of body image. Funny, honest, and charming, Pinnock’s performance and writing combine to create a kaleidoscope of perspectives and experiences that tenderly nudges its audience to question their own relationship with their bodies.

 

Body/Courage. Written by and Starring Danielle Pinnock. Directed by RTE Ensemble Member Megan Carney. Runs through February 27, 2016

 

Pinnock’s work can best be described as the love child of Eve Ensler and Anna Deavere Smith, only funnier; and indeed, it comes as no surprise that Pinnock studied with Deavere Smith in 2014. Bringing life to characters across a wide spectrum of age, race, size, gender, and experience, Pinnock easily creates vocal and physical distinctions between characters without falling into stereotype. The selection of material is well-curated, with the text weaving between light and heavy subject matter, humorous and serious moments, without ever breaking up the flow or giving the audience whiplash. Pinnock also successfully interweaves her own story with the stories of others, making the piece a hybrid of autobiographical performance art and documentary theatre, and the fusion works surprisingly well.

 

Body/Courage. Written by and Starring Danielle Pinnock. Directed by RTE Ensemble Member Megan Carney. Runs through February 27, 2016

 

Pinnock’s charisma and vulnerability as a performer make it easy for audiences to connect with her immediately and remain connected throughout the show. The piece touches all the right parts of the  soul and covers a subject that is much-discussed (especially among women) without becoming clichéd or overwrought. Pinnock’s honesty about her relationship with food and later with alcohol brings a refreshing take to a socially charged topic, and the relationship with body and self is explored from every angle. Weight loss, eating disorders, self-harm, sexual abuse, sex work, trans* issues, religious belief, media, cosmetic surgery, aging, and more are covered in just eighty minutes, and Pinnock embodies the lived truths of her interview subjects with energy, tenderness, and empathy.

 

Performed in an intimate house, with a performer unafraid to directly interact with her audience and a subject matter that is deeply personal for so many, this is a piece that invites strong audience reactions, and that is exactly what it gets. From uproarious laughter to verbal responses to wiping away tears, Pinnock’s audience is profoundly invested in her storytelling.

 

Body/Courage. Written by and Starring Danielle Pinnock. Directed by RTE Ensemble Member Megan Carney. Runs through February 27, 2016

 

It is also worth noting that the house at press night was the youngest and least white audience I have ever been a part of. While a not insignificant number of audience members were Pinnock’s friends and family, it is nevertheless encouraging to see a piece of theatre drawing in a crowd of young and diverse people in an age of aging audiences and calls for greater racial diversity in the performing arts.

 

It is clear that this project is Pinnock’s passion, and that passion shines through every moment of the show, from her first entrance onstage to her interactions with audience members after the show. This is a woman who has dedicated herself to her work and is excited and grateful to be able to share it with others.

 

Body/Courage. Written by and Starring Danielle Pinnock. Directed by RTE Ensemble Member Megan Carney. Runs through February 27, 2016. All photos by Michael Brosilow

 

This world premiere solo performance is a work of art. Pinnock is an artist who is going places; do not be surprised if Body/Courage explodes in popularity and success in years to come. In the meantime, I strongly recommend making your way to Rivendell Theatre to experience this unique and beautiful one-woman show.

 

Ticket Information

Dates: February 5-27, 2016

Schedule: Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00pm; Sundays at 4:00pm

Select Wednesday performances on February 10 at 11:00am, February 17 at 8:00pm and February 24 at 11:00am

Location: Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, 5779 N. Ridge Avenue in Chicago

Tickets:  General Admission. Pre-sale $32, Walk-up $35

Student, Senior, Active Military, Veteran: Pre-sale $22, Walk-up $25

Pay What You Can: Five seats (10% of the house) are available for each performance. Reservations are made on a first come first served basis by calling the box office.

Box Office: (773) 334-7728 or the Rivendell Theatre website

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