The Stranger vs. Bumbershoot

Here Come the Bad Boys

The Mind's Eye

The Surreal World

Booty Call

Intellectual Design

No Laughing Matter

Head Games

Slip of the Tongue in Cheek

The Stranger Vs. Bumbershoot

Comics Are Hot!

Rocket Man

Second Skin

Bookish Babes

Satan Spawn and Selma's Cootchie

Who, When, Where

Maybe the border between intellect and instinct is clear among Bumbershoot's musical offerings this year—the monolithic crotch of the Stooges versus the heady intellect of Common—but in the world of performance, the battle between Cranium and Crotchium is an ongoing struggle. Cornered here are a handful of featured theater, dance, and spoken word performers, whose brains I picked regarding their placement on the upper vs. lower body divide.

"I've gotta say we're 'crotch,'" says Orla McGovern, member and resident spokesmodel of Seattle goga, the all-female improv troupe offering the long-form improv Girl-on-Girl Action (Sat Sept 3, Theatre Puget Sound, 5–6 pm). "Improv is all about not hiding in your head, but about going forward from... other regions," she adds. Not even the audience's brains are of interest: "We don't do audience suggestions. We open the show with a piece of music [AC/DC's "Back in Black," always and forever] then hit the stage and go for an hour. No script, no theme, just pure improv." As for the troupe's gender uniformity: "In [mixed-gender] improv groups, women usually end up as secretaries and girlfriends. But with only women, we have to play everything. It keeps us going in a different direction. Sometimes it's an awful direction, but there you go."

Joining Seattle goga in the cult of the crotch are improv/movement duo Martha Enson and Kevin Joyce, whose Loud Yoga (Mon Sept 5, Theatre Puget Sound, 5:15–5:45 pm) is proudly and predominately groin-oriented. "Yoga is very interested in the chakras," says Joyce. "The crotch chakra gets a lot of prominent play in our performance." Originally conceived as part of a larger piece called New Loud Americans ("Preserving Americans' right to volume"), Loud Yoga features Enson and Joyce as proponents of the titular exercise regime. "It's like regular yoga, but done in a really loud manner, consisting of 15 postures, four loud mantras, two rants, and an expletive. And, for the record, crotches are very, very prominent in our costumes."

Claiming a brainier space is Buddy Wakefield, the two-time World Slam Poetry Champion performing as part of the BumberSlam Invitational (Mon Sept 5, Bagley Wright Theatre, 8:15–10:15 pm). "When I write it's all from the head," Wakefield says. "Head trumps all. I have no erotic poetry. The only crotch in my life is internet porn." Wakefield's stake on the intellectual is shared by dance-maker Wade Madsen, who's mounting two segments of his new work Four Elements (Sat Sept 3, 1–1:45 pm; Sun Sept 4, 6:15–7 pm, Bagley Wright Theatre). "We're doing Air and Fire," Madsen says. "Air is all in the head, dealing in repetition of patterns and music visualization and it's very mathematical. But Fire is pure crotch, exploring the concept of momentum and constant movement." And as with most things crotch-related: "Fire is a crowd-pleaser," Madsen says.

Speaking of crowd-pleasers, worship-worthy solo performer Lauren Weedman returns to Bumbershoot with Wreckage (Sat Sept 3, 6:30–8 pm; Sun Sept 4, 3–4:30 pm, Theatre Puget Sound), her pitch-black comedy chronicling the birth, dissemination, and aftermath of a totally horrific lie. As for the battle between head and crotch: "That's my life," Weedman says. "Those are my daily decisions." But when it comes to creating her shows: "It's all instinct, with me telling the story onstage just like I would tell it in real life. I don't sit at a computer and write it out. Only when the show's done do I know what it means—when other people come in and intellectualize it. Other than that, it's all instinct."

Mik Kuhlman doesn't wait for others to intellectualize her work—she invites them in on the ground floor. For her full-length solo movement work Split Second (Sun Sept 4, 6:45–8:15 pm; Mon Sept 5, 2–3:30 pm, Theatre Puget Sound) Kuhlman joined forces with such artistic heavyweights as Raymond Carver and choreographer Donald Byrd, around whose work Kuhlman weaves her mime-and-movement-based exploration of split-second decisions. In the segment "Jackie," Kuhlman tracks the seconds of the Kennedy assassination (including the First Lady's lunge onto the trunk to retrieve her husband's skull) while "Coat" concerns the childhood shopping nightmare of grabbing the wrong lady's coat. Regarding the eternal battle of head vs. crotch: "Isn't that what split seconds are all about? That's where the head meets the crotch in one moment."