2006_08_arts_kbernard.jpgHERE’s American Living Room Festival kicked off in fine form on Friday, with free food, free colorful paper fans, and cushy sofas to sink down into. Granted, the main reason to be excited about the fans is that the noisy a/c was turned off during the performance, and there weren’t all that many sofas (regular chairs supplemented), and – let’s be honest – the place did start to smell a little bit of feet. But all that just made us feel more at home, with much the same effect on others – there was a very neighborly vibe.

And the shows? With 3LD substituting for HERE’s regular space, which is being renovated, the downtown nature of the whole thing definitely came to the fore. In other words, even if you do live that far south, the works are likely to feel intensely, and probably pleasantly, unfamiliar (though Tina Goldstein’s Cause For Alarm, in which four people, um, well, sing the song of car alarms, sirens, and Mr. Softee, was a pitch-perfect imitation of the soundscape from the window behind our own couch on any given night). But most of the pieces, which are running in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them one- and two-night stands, are somewhat more removed, yet enticing combinations of theater, dance, music, and film: an “excavation” of composer Morton Feldman’s character and music and an imagining of the inner lives of Fox News hosts; a work using Egyptian shadow puppets and a work where the dancer “uses her body as a weaving loom”…the odds are stacked in favor of your seeing something that may leave you thrillingly puzzled, may make you see things differently, and definitely be more real than anything on the TV flickering in front of most living room couches.

3LD Arts and Technology Center // 80 Greenwich St. // Festival through Aug. 30, all shows at 8:30pm; see website for schedule

Photo of Karen Bernard in "Removed Exposure" (showing tonight) taken by Sheilagh O'Neil