Thursday, April 11, 2019

Play a Day: Dividual (BONUS)

Dividual (2019)
dividual adj.
di·​vid·​u·​al | \ də̇ˈvijəwəl\
1 archaic : SEPARATE, DISTINCT
2 archaic : DIVISIBLE, DIVIDED
3 archaic : divided among or shared by a number
"the moon … her reign with thousand lesser lights dividual holds" — John Milton
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Paul Manganello is a Detroit-born theater artist who first journeyed to Cleveland to join the company of the Great Lakes Theater "Classics On Tour" production of Jabberwocky. He auditioned with a piece from his own solo performance Zealous Whig, about Italian philosopher (and friend of Thomas Jefferson) Filippo Mazzei. I was immediately impressed by his witty writing and comic timing. His turn put me in mind of a young Robert Benigni.

Before rehearsals for Jabberwocky had really begun, he joined me for a visit to Cleveland Public Theatre's Dark Room where he presented part of a new piece he had been working on in front of an audience of supportive strangers, and even sang at the (permanently?) on-hiatus Reception. In short time he developed a fondness for the CLE, and saw in us the potential for hi native Detroit. He even posted on Faceboook about our revival, telling friend back home, "Cleveland can do it, why can't we?"

Zealous Whig (2011)
Last year Paul and his brother Jim as the team "Fratellanza" brought their performance The Judge to CPT's Test Flight series of new works. This was the first time I had an opportunity to see the breadth of physical comedy and elegant movement he brings to his original writing.

This weekend Paul, along with long-time collaborator, friend, and musician Michael Malis, have brought another new work to Test Flight, titled Dividual, and I was asked to provide a third eye to the proceedings (Paul called me a "Total Theatre Person," which I liked) witnessing what is truly a work-in-progress over the brief time they have in the Levin Theatre.

These are a few notes on the week so far.

Monday, April 8

Paul and Mike walked me through the piece, describing the set, the possible projections. Mike played samples of the score and other recordings and Paul read the text. The piece will be about thirty-five minutes long -- it is on a double-bill with Rich Stimac's Zoodiac.

The story concerns data mining, and in particular one fellow whose job that is. I was struck by the modern sense of alienation our phones serve us, in contradistinction to our desire to use these scrying mirrors to connect.

The Judge (2018)
There were moments where I hoped for clarity, and the three of us discussed how these might best be provided.

Tuesday, April 9

This evening I got to watch the first act, performed on stage with music. Stools, microphones, a rug, an array of electronic music producing devices. Also a bicycle helmet, which really pulled the picture together (you think I am being sarcastic, I am not.)

I had to imagine the lights, but the images were clearer, we began making up names for the protagonist's workplace. "The Hole" or "The Machine." Michael's soundscape lifted Paul's performance, and subtly provided voice to an unseen character.

Before I departed, leaving them to their work, we threw ideas around for a certain non-choreography and I was excited to know how that was going to look tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 10

The Jabberwocky (2017)
And like that, it's a show. The screen, lights, hat rack -- and an audience! Members of Zoodiac company were there to watch as Paul and Mike stumble through a technical ("stumbling" is a theater term, no one literally stumbled) and their response was very positive.

Both shows are putting final touches on the evening, we three had time to discuss voices, how best to distinguish between characters, but the lighting brought many elements of the narrative into sharp relief.

The isolation. The longing for connection. The grand bargain we have all struck trading our privacy for magic.

It is time for an audience. Will I see you there? Will we connect?

Cleveland Public Theatre presents "Dividual" as part of Test Flight, April 11, 12 & 13, 2019.

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