Ever been lost? I mean, really lost? Say ... 37 years in Cuba lost?
That's the story of our protagonist in Thaddeus Phillips' Lost Soles, a solo tap-dancing adventure. This latest Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental gem returns to Colorado Springs for one day only in its second and final form after a successful, sold-out national tour. Phillips proves worthy of the considerable praise he has garnered by once again dazzling audiences with spontaneous improvisation in a dynamic theatrical experience.
If you were fortunate enough to catch Lost Soles the first time around, then you will know about the highly creative use of a small set and simple props. On this return engagement, expect the same brilliance highlighted with additional scenes, altered backdrops and new choreography. If you can retain information with your lower jaw in your lap, then you may even leave grasping a pretty good understanding of tap's history.
Lost Soles' story unfolds from actor, designer and dancer Phillips' illegal visit to Havana, Cuba, in early 2000. There he compiled video images, firsthand stories and plenty of fuel and inspiration for his wild tap sequences. Phillips weaves his experience -- paired with declassified CIA papers, urban legend and family history -- into a complex web of characters and events.
"Cuba was definitely the most important influence for this show," said Phillips, "though Prague (Czech Republic) is where I studied theater, and it most impacted my work as a whole." Audiences will see the small, isolated nation's effect on Lost Soles through action born out of minimalism and an adopted cultural resourcefulness. Take notice too of the Eastern European style of a non-cluttered environment that ironically yields to a complexity of locations via Phillips' imagination.
Phillips plays multiple roles in both English and Spanish in Lost Soles, engendering male and female characters. A young dancer leaps from Wyoming to New York, fails in a Carnegie Hall performance and then flees to Cuba in shame. A lost passport delays his homecoming nearly four decades before a CIA operative appears, attempting to haul him home.
"It's about being playful with composition, improvising, exploring, opening to the unknown," said Phillips. Once the mind lets go, it's about "having confidence instead of relying upon preconceived notions -- going inward and allowing what is naturally there to take shape."
Phillips utilizes only a handful of items to represent all the show's diverse locations and scenes. Aside from the tap improvisation, he executes many of his own set changes and light cues amidst clever costume swaps.
Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental won a Village Voice Obies Award for Lost Soles in 2000 and boasts Best Creator of Experimental Theater awards from Denver's Westword for 2002 and 2003. Tatiana Mallarino joins the LSI creative team from Bogota, Colombia, and has directed most of the company's shows, including Lost Soles. Phillips was born in Colorado Springs and graduated from Colorado College in 1994.
"In many ways, [creating] is not imposing anything that doesn't fit the landscape," said Phillips. "It's an organic approach -- like a carver removing layers of an object to reveal what's always been inside."
Indeed, what better way than tap dancing to shake off some old dust and illuminate a cross-cultural life story? If you don't leave Lost Soles feeling a little carved by Phillips' tapping feet, then perhaps it's time you get lost too.
-- Matthew Schniper
Presented by Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental and The Colorado College Summer Festival of Arts
Armstrong Theatre, northeast corner of Cascade and Cache La Poudre
Saturday, June 26, 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15 for public; $10 with CC ID; $5 with any student ID; available at the Worner Center on the CC campus at the northwest corner of Cascade and Cache La Poudre.
Call 389-6606 for more information.