If you arrive early for Dean Moss’s 40-minute Figures on a Field, you’ll see the choreographer hanging high on the Kitchen’s back wall, precariously perched on protruding bricks and clinging to a couple of others. Collaborating with visual artist Laylah Ali, he’s transformed the huge space into a sort of gallery, in which a cast of six expressive “brown” performers (Keila Cordova, Pedro Jiménez, Wanjiru Kamuyu, Okwui Okpokwasili, David Thomson, and Moss) enact a variety of vignettes, posing as art viewers, basketball players (abusing the smallest among them), and abject crouching figures who might be prisoners or Islamic worshippers. Scenes form and dissolve, evoking circumstances of racial persecution, injustice, inequality, violence. We hear, as if from a distance, the sound of explosions.
A seventh performer, Kacie Chang, serves as docent for an onstage tour. A group recruited from the audience, mostly white, reinforces the sense of a gallery situation, staring at the “brown” people, objectifying them, marking them. Using visual tropes from art and sport, Moss manipulates Ali’s images to deliver an experience that elevates—or reduces, depending on your point of view—painful realities to the status of art.