Review by David Walters
Jennifer Joy Pawlitschek’s performance of her one-woman show, The Chaos Theory of Now, is a raw and rare delight. Raw because of the self-exposure that makes good art, and rare because it is seldom done with such honesty, intelligence and complete surrender to the material. That surrender allows a beauty of soul, that is Jennifer, to be shared with complete strangers in an echoey, small, dark basement theatre and spreads the light of humanity to all present.
I really liked it, if you can’t guess.
With a complete absence of guile, Jennifer lays the trajectory of her life, like tracing paper, on top of a diagram of Chaos Theory (which is the idea that small, even unseen changes to a dynamic structure will yield completely different results). I’m sure you’ve heard of a butterfly flapping its wings in New York can cause a snowstorm in Tokyo concept. Within that chaos of movement are discoverable patterns: feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, and self-organization that shed light and causation not only on the systems themselves, but also on who Jennifer is at this moment in time, what got her, and ultimately us, where we are today.
She is currently completely disowned from her family because of her personal and political choices; she ponders what it would have been like if there had only been a butterfly flap at some point in her life journey, how would she have turned out? Would she have been a stay at home mom, homeschooling her children to keep them from being exposed to the evils of the outside world? Would she have been a lawyer with a female partner and a rebellious daughter running for local office because she wants democracy to mean something? Or would she have been a farmer’s wife struggling to keep the break-even farm and running a Christian bookstore to try and make ends meet? What caused this Minnesota farm girl to turn out the way she is?
It’s a journey of not only Jennifer’s but also of this country. How did we get to where we are as a country where people flex their morals in order to hang on to a belief system even though they know it does not serve them? Are we going back or are we going forward?
Watching The Chaos Theory of Now and all the questions it raises gave me pause to look back at my life, seeing all the little butterfly flaps that created a puff of a breeze that led me to what and who I am today: some guy filled with conjoined and conflicting experiences and belief systems, sitting in his New York City kitchen writing this review urging you to go and experience Jennifer’s journey and overlay it on your own.
“At the edge of chaos lies either total ruin or creative new beginnings.” I believe in new beginnings.
Theater for the New City presents The Chaos Theory of Now, a world premiere solo play using chaos theory to explain today’s America and what’s next, written and performed by comedian and science maven Jennifer Joy Pawlitschek. Ashley Wren Collins directs. Seven performances will be staged at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue in New York City, from September 8-15, 2019.
The Chaos Theory of Now is presented by Theatre for the New City as part of the Dream Up Festival 2019. Scenic Designer: Miriam Eusebio; Sound Designer: Lydia Love.
Tickets are: $18, plus fees. For more information, visit Theater for the New City or call 800-838-3006. Tickets are $15 for groups of 10 or more.
The runtime is 95 minutes with no intermission.
Seven performances will be staged from September 8-15, 2019 on the following schedule: Sunday, Sept. 8th at 2pm; Monday, September 9th at 6:30pm; Wednesday, September 11th at 9pm; Thursday, September 12th at 6:30pm; Friday, September 13th at 6:30pm; Saturday, September 14th at 5pm; and Sunday, September 15th at 5pm.