Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Angst:84

Photo: Melissa Tilk
ANGST:84 is a play by Toni K. Thayer, commissioned by Dobama Theatre for their Night Kitchen series for teens and twenty-somethings. It premiered October 27, 2000 at the former Dobama space on Coventry, and has been produced in New York City and Chicago.

Set in the fictional Cleveland suburb of Lakeville, Angst:84 depicts one day in the life of various students at Lakeville High School in Fall, 1984. The cool kids have a clearly defined hierarchy (don't follow the rules and be "erased") which reflects the oppressive, Orwellian dictates of the school administration itself. In the Dobama's Night Kitchen production, this was set to a non-stop soundtrack of period tunes including songs by the Thompson Twins, Psychedelic Furs and the Circle Jerks.

The only real Cleveland reference is that of an Exotic Birds concert. True, they didn't just play Cleveland. But no one outside of Cleveland would bother mentioning them in conversation.

The Plain Dealer called it "a fresh, imaginative debut." nytheatre.com said "Angst:84 succeeds as both entertainment and political allegory." Issues addressed in the play include homophobia, teen pregnancy, peer pressure and the bizarre memory that once high schools had smoking areas for students.

When this play debuted, Toni and I were expecting our first child. He died. The show came at an usual time, reflecting as it did a period when we were each teenagers and I was contemplating fatherhood, entirely unaware of anything that might mean.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.

Angst:84 is now available through Heartland Plays, Inc.

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