Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Love In Pieces (concept)

It is a common refrain among actor-teachers in the residency program, the suggestion that we put on a show!

"We should stage a showcase," one suggested my first year, like it's the most natural thing in the world. They are young, and energetic, with no children, no need to sleep, nor any previous experience producing any kind of event.

I have been a producer, in my fashion, and I hate slap-dash amateur shit. You can do good work on the cheap, but that's the point - the work has to be good. All of it, from the moment your guests enters until after they depart. Expectations raised must be expectations exceeded, and so on.

I never rose to seriously consider any of these calls to "put on a show". When I was an actor-teacher, I knew I had to concentrate on that work, and had time for little else. As their supervisor, I know they need to concentrate on their work, and have time for little else.

And yet, for the past thirteen years, the same refrain. "Let's put on a show!" Mickey Rooney is dead, get back to work.

This past fall, however ... we were taking a break from rehearsal and Andrew says, "We should put on a show." Ugh. Come on, man? What? Where? Be specific. You don't put on a show for its own sake, you have to believe in it.

After Sleep No More, Emily, James and I had dinner in Chelsea. The subject came up - we should do an immersive show. That would be so much fun. Sure. So is Disneyland. I put it out there - okay, what would we do?

That was the stumper, where it all fell down. Everything each of us suggested would really just be a site-specific play, no different from any number of shows staged at CPT or the 78th Street Studios. The audience might stand, or be guided from one space to another. But it would still be: We, actors. You, audience. In a theater, even if it was some kind of non-traditional one.

The most non-traditional space perhaps, more unusual than a cemetery or an abandoned hotel, is a private residence. Some person's home or apartment or condo, into which strangers (or near-strangers) have been invited. Especially when the expectation has been raised that this will be some kind of special event. Not something informal. A house, but not a house. A performance space.

In the past several years I had been fortunate enough to experience performances of I Dreamed of Rats and It Was a Set-Up in a single room of a private residence with a limited audience. You felt you were part of something special, that you receiving a gift.

Andrew said, "we have a house." Of course, he doesn't have a house, three actor-teachers have been renting a place on the Near West Side. A small house, not a large house. Not even as large as my house, and my house is not that large.

Questions to be answered; What is the point in performing a play that close to a tiny audience, if the story you tell is mundane? If it is private, it must be personal. If it is close, it must be intimate.

And then I remembered Sarah Morton's Love In Pieces.

Tomorrow: Love In Pieces (play)

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