- OTHER MEDIA
- Jihad for Vent and Dummy
- reviewed by Richard Hinojosa
- Feb 25, 2009
- What if I told you that ventriloquism is a lie? To be more specific,
what if I said that it is not possible to throw one's voice? Would that
drain the magic from the art and cause you to have a less enjoyable experience?
Well, that is just exactly what Ron Coulter tells us at the top of Jihad
for Vent and Dummy. The question is, why would he want us to not believe
in the magic his art form?
- In theater, as in many other forms of entertainment, the suspension
of disbelief is a key element to enjoying the show. If you can't get over
the fact that Coulter has hand up his dummy's back and is talking to himself
then you're not going to have a good experience at the show. The fact is
we do suspend our disbelief and we do it willingly without being told to
do so. We believe without thinking and that's what Coulter is trying to
break down. He contends that belief is a detrimental to our society. He
says, "We have become a nation of believers rather than thinkers."
Belief, he says, is too absolute. It draws a line in the sand and says
"you're either with me or you're against me."
- Coulter understands that he is not going to be able to stop people
from believing in gods or science or what have you. But he can, at the
very least, make his audience a thinking one. So he begins by telling us
that it is not him throwing his voice into the dummy. His voice, he tells
us, is coming from the same place it does when he speaks as himself but
it is us that puts the voice into the puppet. We create the magic. After
telling us this he launches into a short play within this play in which
he breaks down conventions of belief by, for example, switching his and
the dummy's voice, in order to experiment on us. Afterward he brings the
house lights up and asks us how that affected our perspective of the performance.
- So why wouldn't he want us to believe that the dummy is talking? Coulter
explains by comparing belief with faith. He contends that they are two
very different animals. Belief is the past while faith is the future. In
fact he says that faith and imagination are the same thing. I found that
statement very interesting and I wanted to hear more about that but he
moves on. What it boils down to is: even if he pulls open the curtain and
shows us the man pulling the levers, our belief is not diminished because
the magic is in all of us.
- I really enjoyed the concept of this show. I walked out thinking about
what I had just witnessed rather than immediately forgetting it. Jihad
for Vent and Dummy is a thinking person's vaudeville act. That said, the
act itself brings nothing particularly new to the table. The jokes are
worth a few chuckles but not a belly laugh. Coulter is a talented ventriloquist
and he nimbly manipulates the puppet but it's not a dazzling feat to witness.
Still, that didn't weigh heavily on my thoughts of this show. I enjoy being
challenged and if you enjoy the same then definitely check this one out
before it moves on.