Pivot Arts Festival Presents Two Impactful Works-in-Process
In an intimate black box theatre we excitedly wait for the unknown, or rather the artist’s work-in-progress. A flash of bright red swiftly and closely dances by, it is performer Jenn Freeman, also known as Po’Chop, commanding attention and taking up space! Freeman is donned in a mostly red statement making fit, featuring a ankle-length pleated skirt, a full bodied lace suit zipped over her face, and white usher gloves. She truly stands out in the plain room. There are no light manipulations or fancy set designs, but instead a body that travels powerfully through time and space. It’s mesmerizing.
Po’ Chop’s movements are deliberate, and the control of her body impressively tells a story of reconciliation that’s supported throughout the piece by sweet sounds of poet, Audre Lorde. Her gestures are sometimes intertwined with deep breathy sighs, a reminder that someone is indeed behind the laced mask.
The moment of reveal is climactic. Po’Chop breaks free from the confining attire, delicately unzipping herself as if she’s shedding old skin. She strips down to nude undergarments, which noticeably transforms the energy in the space. At one point she makes her way to the corner of the room, echoing, “survive” from the text that lingers in the background. She rises, and covers herself with a new garment, a beautiful white floralesque dress. It’s as though a rebirth has just occurred.
Po’Chop's intentions as to why we’ve gathered are verbalized later throughout the piece, and she’s joined in the space with a gospel choir member and pastor of the Church of Lorde. Despite dialogue in these next moments lending more clarity to the experience, this writer believes the moments prior were most compelling, as the gestures brought up heart-felt and visceral emotions.
Po’Chop's The People’s Church of the Ghetto was paired with Clusterfuq, a new performance art piece by choreographer Courtney Mackedanz, which takes viewers on a sci-fi dance story.
Both pieces are going to continue to be workshopped and altered, but portions presented were already--in this writer’s view-- highly impactful, to say the least.
About the Author: Jordan Rome
Jordan Rome is an actress turned director/ writer/filmmaker working and living in Chicago, IL. She received her BFA in 2014 from DePaul University in PR and Advertising and Community Service Studies. She uses solo performance and film to deconstruct our understanding of race and body politics in America. She draws inspiration through the intimate exploration of Self and Source, both which she believes are spiritually and equally intertwined.
The professional work she’s accomplished in Chicago’s theatre/film include MPAACT Theater’s, Illinois Caucus of Adolescent Health youth theatre program, Collaboraction Theatre, Theater Momentum, VAM Studios, and Soft Cage Films.