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It's not Shakespeare. Performance art, which has gained widespread notoriety through the work of Karen Findley -- who was involved in a funding disupte with the National Endowment for the Arts -- is a multimedia presentation in which the traditional barrier between audience and performer is often crossed. Last weekend's show, The Wooden Boy and Other Stories, included three pieces, each of which used a different performance style to address the blending of the medium and message. The Wooden Boy was the evening's most conventional piece, a monologue in which Zimmerman told the story of a boy made out of wood who could not dream or speak because he was completely dry on the inside. Zimmerman often addressed the audience, commenting in one humorous exchange that the boy knew what was going to happen to him because he was eavesdropping on the monologue. The show's opening piece was more difficult to comprehend. A Silent Story consisted of a series of slide panels, which had a variation of the Garden of Eden story written on them, starring Zimmerman as a sword-wielding creator who cuts his creations into pieces. The performer ran along the balconies of the Penniman Library, brandishing his sword in conjunction with the narration. Sword, serpent, narrator and author merged in the story into a single creative but destructive phallic image. The panels, which displayed only words, often were addressed to the audience. They posed some interesting questions, but because each slide held only one short sentence, the narrative assumed a disjointed "Dick and Jane" cadence. In the show's final piece, Minuetto and Variations, Zimmerman played a recorder, interspersing sections of music with short speeches about the nature of conversation. Zimmerman, whose last work was "The Green Meadow," an interactive visual art work presented in the Philomathean Art Gallery, said after the show that most performance art is presented by visual artists, not actors. His own lack of experience was evident in the uneven nature of the performance. The Wooden Boy was highly entertaining, with effective body language and a relaxed narrative style, but in Minuetto and Variations he spoke in measured tones that seemed calculated to be profound, not to convey the message. The 25 audience members reacted well to the show, applauding more enthusiastically after each successive piece. College senior Akiva Potok said he enjoyed the changing relationship between the performer and the audience. "It's inside your mind," he said. "You're engaged in this rational game intertwining youself and the actor." College senior Jessica Cooperman, director of the Philomathean Art Gallery, said she thought The Wooden Boy was very entertaining. "His humor complements the more complex points he was making," she said.

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