San Francisco

Darryl Sapien

Floating Museum

Darryl Sapien has staged several important performance works in which a central concept is conflict or opposition culminating in celebratory resolution. Often dramatic in location or ritualization, Sapien employed only one or two characters, carrying out simple but thought-provoking activities. In his performances there exists both a sense of positivism and feeling for humanity.

Crime in the Streets, staged in Adler Alley in North Beach, was a magnification of the artist’s concerns which employed a large cast. props, including a vertically expanding forklift, and a futuristic script on urban violence—narrated through a megaphone. The complete antithesis of Faces of Memory, Crime in the Streets was plagued by poor planning and an unawareness of public production techniques. Early on, the large anticipatory crowd discovered that the alley was not suitable for more than 30 viewers. Forty minutes late in starting. the waiting period resembled a confused set-up for Streets of San Francisco. Perhaps the only interesting moments occurred at this time, when Sapien’s costumed cops and the actual police department, as well as residents and passersby, joined the crowd, merging real life and theatre.

Once underway, the actual performance revolved around a trite script comprised of vignettes on lynching, rape, suicide and sadism. Sapien also utilized firecrackers, stink bombs, and crowd manipulation—all to no positive effect. Crime in the Streets displayed a complete lack of conception, ranging from an unsuitable location to cheap tricks which could easily have caused real urban violence or casualties. As if a metaphor for the entire Floating Museum production, Sapien’s performance left viewers at the mercy of art-induced chaos.

Hal Fischer

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