By David Walters

Bodycast, one of the four (currently Farmhouse Whorehouse, When a Priest Marries a Witch, Honor, and Bodycast) artist lectures/theatrical presentations/artistic memoir/performance art pieces, that Suzanne Bocanegra has been working on for a number of years was presented at the NYU Skirball Theatre this past Monday night (the next in the series one-night-only performance, of Honor, is due to be performed April 8, so keep an eye out, or get your ticket now here).

Why so many forwardslashes in the description? Because Suzanne’s work is all of those things and more.

As the house lights dim and the stagelights come up, Suzanne walks out from back stage with an actor (for Bodycast, Oscar and Tony-nominated Ethiopian Irish actress Ruth Negga), takes a short nod of the head bow, and then goes stage right and sits at a small desk that supports a small table reading light, places her script for the evening on the desk, hands an ear piece to Ruth, tests her microphone, Ruth then walks stage left with a clicker in hand, and they begin. Suzanne reads into her microphone, Ruth hears her words and interprets them through herself (“I am Suzanne Bocanegra,” Ruth says.).

What unfolds is Suzanne’s story of what she has experienced and done in her life that made her the artist she is today supported by the words emanating from Ruth’s mouth and backed up by a large projection screen that the clicker controls.

We see the special sequined Christmas dress that her mother made for her as a child, travel to the sequin museum in Taylor, Texas, discover Suzanne’s Scottish tartan infatuation that helped her get through an artist residency in Rome, her love of dots and the comic book character Dot that led her to the pointillist painting of Seurat (she counted the number of color dots on his paintings), her interest in the white sculptures of ancient Rome (and how the had in actuality been all colorfully painted), various ideals of feminine beauty, the bodycast that she wore for two years as a teenager due to scoliosis while attending school with the device, and her drive to be part of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cadets girls marching color guard.

What you get from the cornucopia of reflection is a clear view into how Ms. Bocanegra’s mind and eye works. A chance to travel with her back through her life and see it through her artist’s eye. How her life’s travails have informed her many artistic creations and inspired who she is in the world today.

It’s a delightfully fascinating evening of peeking behind the curtain at art, at a life, at what performance can be.


Suzanne Bocanegra: Creator/Writer/Performer

Ruth Negga: Performer

Paul Lazar: Director

Emily Coates: Dancer

Joseph Wolfslau: Designer & Technical Director

Running time about an hour.

If this review piqued your interest, you might also be piqued by one of the following Front Row Center reviews: Bacon, South, for all the women who thought they were Mad, When a Priest Marries a Witch | The Front Row Center, and Passage