Chasing the Tides or, Exposure is the creation of "an accomplished NYC-based actress, director, playwright, and academic" under the pseudonym Matilda Woods. Jessica Burr directed this solo show and is the artistic director of the producing company Blessed Unrest. This powerful exploration of what it means to be a woman uses movement, sound design and the sharing of secrets to connect with audiences.
The play begins with the ocean's sounds and records of the tides as Woods strikes various poses throughout the space. Over the course of the next 90 minutes, those poses repeatedly return as a form of a physical vocabulary to convey different stories. Using these visual motifs, Woods experiments with the power of her body socially, sexually, and financially (the three often overlapping). By embodying such evocative physicality, Woods can take internal conflicts, such as post-traumatic stress or exploitation and externalize them for the audience.
The story starts with Woods as a young teenager and takes us through her young adulthood. Woods physically transforms into the bodies of all these younger selves believably and effortlessly. We watch the character start as a young girl exploring her relationship with her sexuality, to end as a woman with an incredibly nuanced relationship with her own body.
The sound design by Julian Evans underscores much of the piece, bringing it to the next level. Whether serving as an underscoring soundtrack or a narrative storytelling tool, the sound design immerses the audience in the experience. At times, the sounds feel like Wood's thoughts, allowing the audience to experience some of the character's dissonant inner life. It is as if the audience is given insight into the character's head or a way to inhabit her thinking. In addition, the sound design serves to ground the story in a location, a tool exceedingly helpful for a solo show on a simple set. In general, all the show's technical elements felt thoughtful and served the storytelling.
In its vulnerability, this show finds its power. The piece brings the unsaid under a microscope and allows others to observe. The glue that holds this show together is the sharing of secrets. The performance style utilized in this piece serves this vision. Woods gazes into the soul of every single person in the room at some point in the night. During the show, she speaks to someone directly, asking, "Do I have your attention? What do I need to do to get your attention?". At times, Woods speaks in a whisper to the audience to convey classified information. Using a stage name has allowed this artist to lay bare the profoundly personal. She explores what is left when the tide rolls in and the protection of the water is no longer there to hide behind.
Chasing the Tides, or Exposure is an introspective, thought-provoking and memorable night of theatre. The show speaks to universal truths audiences can connect with, relate to and understand. If you are looking for an unconventional yet authentic solo show that blends dance and powerful storytelling, look no further than Chasing the Tides, or Exposure.
"Chasing the Tides, or Exposure"
Performed by Matilda Woods
Directed by Jessica Burr
December 9-18, 2022
357 W 36 Street, 3rd floor
Carmen is a Brooklyn-based writer and actor, originally from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, currently based in Brooklyn. They have worked with prominent theaters off-Broadway and regionally. Their mission is to use play to create artful representation by and for underrepresented communities. In addition to theatre, Carmen holds love in their heart for drag performance, crafting, a good memoir and their cats. www.carmenburbridge.info