To be mortal is to sense that time passes and is finite. To make rhythm is to know that time subdivides infinitely—the more you make, the more you have. This is the beauty of Stomp, a wordless percussion piece, created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas and developed through the nearly 30 years of ensembles that have performed it. It demonstrates this concept in vignettes that can be appreciated as much for their mathematics as they can for their visceral wit. Presented on a stage set with scrap metal, street signs, and trash cans, the scene is an urban alley anywhere, its personages ragtag and bruised but unbowed by the vocations and situations implied by the objects that come into their hands and under their feet: brooms, sawdust, pipes, matchboxes, paint cans, and (yes, literally) kitchen sinks. Anything can be an instrument and anything can be expressed in the music they produce—territories established, kings and queens made and unmade, defiance, humor, pleasure, idiosyncrasy, community. The principles are clear and quickly established: it’s not the ones who tap the loudest who have the greatest power but the ones who make the most of what they have and share it with the others. Every brown, black, and white face and body in the 12-member cast is distinctive, alive, and intent on creating and connecting.
Stomp says nothing and everything; its message of invention, inclusion, and play is all the affirmation of life and hope we need in a dark season. v