"They Are Gone But Here I Must Remain" is an experimental piece by Sister Sylvester.
"They Are Gone But Here I Must Remain" is an experimental piece by Sister Sylvester.
Photo credits courtesy of Sister Sylvester, used with permission.

Brooklyn is fast becoming a hot spot for hip young New York-based artists to showcase their work and the theater house known as JACK is a prime venue for such performances. Located in the Clinton Hill area, JACK is presenting “They Are Gone But Here Must I Remain,” a new performance piece by Sister Sylvester.

Running through September 19th, “They Are Gone But Here Must I Remain” is an original multi-disciplinary performance that charts the story of “The Fall,” a 1968 underground film with a cult following that supposedly started a revolution. “The Fall,” by Peter Whitehead, was rumored to have influenced international political activism in the 1970s. The play in combines first-hand interviews and the company's blend of video and movement-based performance. Staged within the genre of performance lectures, the play explores the connections between image and action, artist and activist.

“They Are Gone But Here Must I Remain” is an experimental piece. It includes nudity in the form of bare breasts, a man prancing around shirtless, a woman’s hair being stapled to a wall, the use of paint guns, a loud BANG in complete darkness and a live chicken that wanders around the stage throughout the performance. In fact, the chicken serves as the fourth performer in this three-person play and its presence elicited much laughter and delighted amusement from the audience.

“They Are Gone But Here Must I Remain” focuses on dark subjects such as political uprisings, the student protester occupation of Columbia University in 1968 and the subsequent police-beatings of those protestors. These themes transcend a college-lecture-like discussion of film versus reality and the protests of 1968 compared to the protests taking place around the world today. Yet there is nothing truly clear or clean-cut about this piece, leaving the audience to dwell on the hallucinogenic-like sequences they have just seen and draw their own conclusions from the information, opinions and ideas expressed.

Animal lovers can rest assured--although this piece discusses violence and even includes a clip from “The Fall” depicting the killing of a chicken, no harm is done to the chicken on stage. In fact, it seems to be adored by the cast and is clearly more pet than prop.

JACK makes for an interesting performance venue that allows the actors to bring live animals onto the stage and shoot paintball guns at the walls--which are covered in tin foil, thereby creating interesting lighting effects throughout the show. Overall, it is a good location for experimental work, something that Sister Sylvester is renowned for.

To learn more about “They Are Gone But Here Must I Remain” visit the official JACK website. To learn more about Sister Sylvester, see here.