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IMPRESSIONS: Christian Warner's "WHITE HOT ROOM" at Triskelion Arts

IMPRESSIONS: Christian Warner's "WHITE HOT ROOM" at Triskelion Arts
Kristen Hedberg/ IG @kristen.hedberg

By Kristen Hedberg/ IG @kristen.hedberg
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Published on June 27, 2024
Christian Warner's "WHITE HOT ROOM." Photo courtesy of artist

Choreographer, Director and Sound Designer: Christian Warner
Performers: Elinor Kleber-Diggs (movement collaborator), Denise Ward (vocal collaborator), Christian Warner
Dramaturgist: Fana Fraser
Musicians: Andrew Bocher, Ildio
Lighting Designer: Emily Clare Gocon
Stage Manager and Director of Productions:Anna Wotring

Date: June 8th 2024


Christian Warner's WHITE HOT ROOM envelopes us in its raw subject matter. Warner, along with movement collaborator Elinor Kleber-Diggs and vocal collaborator Denise Ward, details his experiences with addiction, loss, and mental-wellness. The evening, the first of Warner’s larger movement series titled "Letters to Bunney," draws further inspiration from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Articles of clothing lie askew on the floor as viewers trickle into Triskelion Arts.  A shimmering, mauve fabric hangs, draping from a clothesline which stretches across the stage. A stool, a microphone, and a portable sound system rest behind the fabric. Projections upstage play videos of a house party where friends dance to upbeat music. The combination of it all feels busy and intriguing.

Christian Warner's WHITE HOT ROOM  at Triskelion Arts. Photo: Courtesy of Artist

Kleber-Diggs, wearing white pants and a white tank top, softly steps in first  and lies down amid the clothes. They stretch, warming up their body before embarking on a solo dance. Warner walks in next wearing several layers of clothing.  A furry jacket buries beneath it a series of striking sequined and striped shirts, dresses, and pants. Slowly and deliberately Warner struts as if on a runway, pausing at the end for emphasis. He sheds a layer of clothing before repeating the process until revealing his final undergarment. Ward, clad in all-white, swiftly situates herself on the stool, her silhouette beaming as a bright light shines from behind. As the house settles and the lights fade, we embark on a journey through Warner’s life.

Crawling  over the strewn clothing as the others observe, Warner sings, as he drags his body along the floor, “When you feel sad, or under a curse, your life is bad, your prospects useless…". He laughs, repeating, “It’s all for the best…it’s all for the best.” Kleber-Diggs sinks to all fours and crawls alongside Warner as he rolls into the fabric that lives upstage ,becoming cocooned in mauve.

Christian Warner's WHITE HOT ROOM  at Triskelion Arts. Photo courtesy of Artist

Kleber-Diggs and Warner entangle themselves  in a tempting yet toxic relationship. Though abstracted, Kleber-Diggs seemingly represents the vices which consume Warner, specifically addiction. At times,  such as in a fluid, dynamic duet where both would certainly crumble without their constant pull and weight sharing, Kleber-Diggs’  appears to be an emotionally supportive partner. At other times, the two break out of their flow to skip across the space, evoking playfulness and escapism. Yet as the work develops, it feels evident that Kleber-Diggs pulls Warner into deep harmful patterns.

Warner’s strong command of his body contrasts the questioning road he travels. He tosses his legs high, swiftly lowering them into whipping turns and descents to the floor. Kleber-Diggs also dances with authority. Ward’s vocals, melodic and building, heighten the atmosphere as Warner delves into his search for healing.

A climactic scene occurs when Kleber-Diggs strides downstage with a pie and a can of whipped cream. They spray the cream on the pie, which is strung to a cord. They then drag the cord towards Warner, who takes the pie and slams it into his face. The music abruptly cuts at this moment. Ward offers Warner a towel to remove the whipped cream. Later in the work, a similar image pops up as Warner takes an article of white clothing and covers his entire face with it as he dances. Heavier episodes speak to loss and desolation. A particularly weighted scene involves a recording of a voicemail which plays as Warner dances alone.  A high, frantic voice sobs “I miss you so much…you were one of my best friends...”

Christian Warner's WHITE HOT ROOM  at Triskelion Arts. Photo courtesy of Artist

The stage stills as Kleber-Diggs and Warner stand next to Ward. Ward rises and the three travel together  on a diagonal towards the stage's front edge.  Ward and Kleber-Diggs exit,  leaving Warner alone.

Addressing a character named Corey, he says, “I’ve been thinking a lot about all those things… I’m so glad you called… [I’ve been trying to articulate] how I’m feeling… at the end of the day, I really think you’re a bitch.” His voice swells, gaining momentum. “I feel like I keep searching for the right words to describe you… you’re a bitch! I’ll see you never!”

Laughs and cheers erupt from viewers, supporting Warner as he recognizes his independence, authority, and power, reliant on no one but himself.

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