In numerology, zero represents both the emptiness of death and the totality of life. And during adolescence it’s not uncommon to feel that you’re nothing and everything at once. Zeros–a multimedia performance piece developed under the auspices of Free Street by a group of area high school students guided by Ron Bieganski and Bryn Magnus–uses a visceral combination of poetry, song, dramatic monologues, and dance to explore the relationship between weight and weightlessness. “Words are razor blades,” intones TeenStreet ensemble member Christine Gandia at one point–and Zeros does cut straight to the bone of teenage angst. World-weary and well crafted, the piece tackles a wide range of difficult topics, from burgeoning sexual awareness to school violence, and the writing remains consistently sophisticated and on point throughout. Eye-popping performances abound, and the eight ensemble members are knowledgeable enough about their craft to exploit silence as a means of relating inner turmoil and anguish. There are times when the piece cries out for sharper focus, but there’s so much that we stand to learn from these teenagers that it would be almost criminal to suggest edits: it’s better to leave no stone unturned than risk the sin of omission. Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk, 773-327-6666. Saturday, September 15, 7 PM. $10 or “pay what you can.”
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Anita Evans.