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Press Quotes

Carpenter's adaptation of writings by Presbyterian pastor Joy Douglas Strome plus some of his own texts, created in collaboration with performers Lia Bonfilio and Wilkinson, are expertly snipped apart and repeated to gradually reveal their meaning.
Laura Molzahn (from 16 Artists, Thirsty Well 2011), SeeChicagoDance.com

Movement phrases often halt midstream and start again from the beginning, as if the engine of the dance refuses to turn over. "Tomorrow" is the last word spoken in the piece.
Zachary Whittenburg (from Bodies Politic 2011), TimeOut

Though Carpenter is known for agenda-driven pieces--most recently the Reagan-focused My Fellow Americans--he wanted the cycle of which this piece is part to be "more a contemplation," an abstract meditation on abundance and scarcity. His guiding principle, he says, was a rule imposed by his teacher at UCLA, Victoria Marks: Get as much as you can from as little as you can.
Laura Molzahn (from MaryAnn McGovern and Dancers, With Peter Carpenter 2011), Chicago Reader

Carpenter has a history of using dance to explore ways in which politics, social mores and beliefs are literally embodied and acted out. In his 2003 Bareback Into the Sunset (revived in 2006 at the Dance Center), he staged the complex interactions and emotions surrounding sexual behavior and AIDS; in 2008’s Sky Hangs Down Too Close, he took on the dynamics of a community infected with desire for power, money and greed. With this in mind, the topic of life during the Reagan years seems a natural one for Carpenter.
Asimina Chremos (from Trickle-down dances 2009), Time Out Chicago

Crammed with music, texts, movement, cultural allusions, and ideas, My Fellow Americans addresses heroism, weakness, violence, theatricality, spectatorship, memory, and the slipperiness of identity. Carpenter and his four fellow creator-performers bring a complex mix of conflicting emotions to bear on the era, including nostalgia, anger, and pity for the powerful man who was ultimately powerless against Alzheimer's.
Laura Molzahn (from Reagan Revisited 2009), Chicago Reader

The paradox of this new dance theater work, as in all of Carpenter's pieces I've seen, is how the simplicity of its surface contains such a densely-packed mass of codes, references, suggestions and arguments. Becoming absorbed by the dances he makes is like reaching nonchalantly for a block of styrofoam to find out it weighs as much as an anvil.
Zachary Whittenburg (from Peter Carpenter "My Fellow Americans" 2009), SeeChicagoDance.com

It became less about Reagan and more about a resistance to Reagan. What better resistance to Reagan than a motley crew of bodies? It’s not monochromatic, there’s not one body type, there’s not one gender performance going on; there’s multiplicity.
Peter Carpenter in an interview with Sharon Hoyer Parsing the Great Communicator 2009), New City

Though the piece has certainly been steeped in a recognition of that human frailty and vulnerability that illness brings about. Breath, or the struggle for breath is omnipresent in the work.
Peter Carpenter in an interview with Karen Krolak Catching Up with Peter Carpenter 2009), Monkeyhouse

My Fellow Americans will be performed at Hamlin Park Studio Theater... Seriously, if you are in any way interested in why your post-queer, post-racial, post-feminist life has all the road blocks it does, you need to see this.
Eric Roldan (from "My Fellow Americans" 2009), Think Pink

[The Sky Hangs Down Too Close is] a notable entry for the smaller, off-loop dance community. Peppered with dialogue and enactments occurring simultaneously in various spaces throughout the art gallery, Peter Carpenter's program explored how power articulates itself in both public and private interactions.
Sid Smith (from "Best of Dance 2008"), Chicago Tribune

Peter Carpenter's latest creation for Lucky Plush, inspired by Brecht's Chicago tale of two men locked in battle, dissects the concept of a motivation-less struggle from shifting vantage points. We see the virtuosic ensemble struggle, watch struggle, resist and succumb to physical manipulation. Text-some original, some lifted from the play-add theoretical musings and deconstructive moments that peel away at Carpenter's multi-layered themes while contributing a marvelous texture to the movement. Carpenter invents a physical language full of nuance and humor, yet we feel immediately fluent.
Sharon Hoyer, Newcity, 2008

Peter Carpenter has pulled off a dance of ideas, inspired by Bertolt Brecht's exploration of unmotivated conflict in In the Jungle of Cities. Layering spokent texts, movement and recorded music, the 75-minute The Sky Hangs Down Too Close manages both to suggest Brecht's characters and, more important, wrestle with the unresolved question of which is the prime mover in human struggles: individual psychology or sociological forces...
From a touching/chilling mother-daughter duet to a rough-and-tumble mix of ballroom dance and wrestling for three couples holding tight to each other's wrists, the choreography richly embodies Brecht's complex vision.
Laura Molzahn, Chicago Reader, 2008

It's not that easy to find a good actor, a good writer or a good dancer. All three combined is a rarity indeed. So it proves with Peter Carpenter. His Bareback Into the Sunset, playing through Saturday at the Dance Center of Columbia College, manages a number of achievements: an update on the AIDS crisis; a well-written dance drama; a sardonic glimpse at the seamier side of gay life; and even a destruction of itself...
Throughout, Lynn Johnson plays the narrator, though she's more a postmodern mischief-maker, announcing stage directions in a way that suggests she's out to sabotage the whole affair. She's also, at times, a rhapsodic, onstage critic analyzing Carpenter's moves, describing his rise from the floor at one point as having "the fragility of a foal taking its first steps." Carpenter is a bit of a figurative juggler, capable of balancing several metaphors at once.
He tackles the issue of unsafe sex not with the preachy stance of a sociologist but with the complexity and feeling of an artist. He explores its connection to gay liberation and identity while finding its source in a sensual desire much more complicated than lust... ..."Bareback" is a hone-hour blend of clever wordplay, soulful dancing and interdisciplinary zigzagging. Throughout, Carpenter is someone to watch, hear and heed.
Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune, 2006

Peter Carpenter…crosses the boundaries between genres, incorporating poetry, unconventional narrative, live and prerecorded music, visual art and movement in dance-plays haunted by characters who move and speak-or whose silence speaks for them.
Byron Woods, Raleigh News and Observer, 2001

Carpenter's striking choreography...constitutes the most seamless fusion of theater and modern dance I have seen anywhere.
Byron Woods, Ralegh News and Observer, 2000

[Peter Carpenter's] work is strongly, sometimes almost aggressively, self-revealing, combining the visceral directness of queer performance-storytelling with a pared-down modern dance aesthetic. The result is a highly personal, confrontational communication with the audience.
Carol Burbank, Chicago Reader, 1996

Carpenter combines narrative and dance conventions to create a tension between expected resolutions and unanticipated gestural revelations... defining a queer theatricality that uses but does not limit itself to camp or modern-dance conventions.
Carol Burbank, The Chicago Reader, 1996

...about a gay man's rage at government inaction on AIDS, Carpenter fashions a duet...that expresses anger as well as two men's support and love for each other. It's one of the few AIDS pieces I've seen that genuinely communicates rage.
Terry Brennan, The Chicago Reader, 1993