Tuesday, February 26, 2013

You Gotta See This 2...or Too!

If you are following us on FB (that's what the cool kids call Friend Book) then you know I have sort of already pitched the following pitch, but this is my day to blog and I can shove any propaganda down any throat I want to, whether it be Democratic Bangs or my son's pink bib, so today is my day and your throat is reading this, so I choose to scream at you, "See this play!!"

Here's the deal, and it's a real deal and worth reading about and even more worth seeing.  So there is this theater group out in Brooklyn...that's NYC, kids, not your neighbor's 6-year-old (anyway that would be Brookelhynne, one of the O's is silent, but the other still makes the long O sound) and they do, what they call, "Investigative Theatre." What this means is that they pick a subject and then head out to NYC and they interview total strangers on that subject, they then scurry back to what I can only imagine is their red brick warehouse loft where they spend hours upon hours lounging about draped over chaise loungers eating cheeses and spouting off scenes, songs and monologs with their eyes rolled to the back of their heads playing bongos to the Katie Thompson version of "Eternal Flame."  (Believe me, I've written a play in New York, that's how you do it...never mind, you could never understand.)  So they take the interviews and create a play based on the stories they collected, sometimes a song, sometimes a monologue, however the thing comes to life.  Once, they went out and asked people to tell them about something they had lost.  They got lots of answers; a watch, a water bottle, keys, a mother, a friendship, hope, faith, pants.  And they created a play called "Gone Missing" using real people's real stories.

Out here on the other coast, (Provo, Utah) my wife, who knew of their work, was inspired to pitch an idea (last year) to bring out the Brooklyn Theatre Trope (they have a name, it's 'The Civilians') to BYU and have them workshop with students their methods of creating theater, then set those students loose on Provo and find out what Provo people had lost.

It was a good pitch.  It was a thought-out pitch. It was not, however, a pitch that was ever supposed to become a play.  But BYU was very excited about the idea and they snatched up Lindsay and her pitch and loaded her with resources and time and said, "Let's see it".  That was a year ago, and after some amazing collaboration with some amazing people at the school the finished product is something incredible.

The night begins with a cutting from the Brooklyn show, "Gone Missing"; Provo actors tell the stories of New Yorkers' loss.  Then you get 15 mins to do your business and get back to your seat for the second half of the show, "The Cleverest Thief."  This is the product created by BYU students after interviewing Provo losers (as in, those who have lost something).  Seeing the shows side by side is such an effective way to see both the similarities and differences between a New Yorker and a Provote (trademark pending).  There is music in both and "The Cleverest Thief" has what they are calling a "Lost & Found Orchestra" where the students make music using everyday found objects.

One of the best aspects of the show is that the students chosen were not theater students.  Because they would be creating a show from nothing they reached out to Playwrights, Animators, Graphic Designers, Songwriters, even the Mathematics and Film departments.  The end result has such a different feeling from what actors would present to you--don't be fooled, there are actors mixed in, it is a main stage show after all--but, after a semester of creating a play from interviews, it came to the  Playwrights, Animators, Graphic Designers, Songwriters, even the Mathematicians and Film Students to become the characters they had created. For some of them, this will be their first performance, but then, they were the ones sitting in a room hearing these stories first hand, they are not trying "Become" or "Create" they are just being what they saw, telling you the stories that were told to them.

A woman in Provo lost her hearing.  When she decided to have children there was push back, "What kind of mother could you be if you can't hear your children?" "Is that really fair to a child?" "What if they need you?"  In a filmed moment in the show, when children are playing in the snow, there is no sound as they play, no boots crushing snow, no snow suit swooshing, no screaming, no laughing, or rather, no sound of all those things happening. Then, just out of frame there is pain, and someone is hurt, the soundless mother is holding the camera and her daughter comes to her for help.  It's just a moment, one of thousands in their lives, but with a small brush of a mothers hand, her child is comforted and regrouped and rejoined. Somehow, she did it, she mothers without hearing. And we learn her loss, while defining, was not finalizing.

I love stories. I love new ways to tell them, I love different peoples version of the same story, and this show explores many ways to tell a story.  You love stories, too. You come to this blog, and likely others, to hear them.  I hope, this week or the next, you find yourself sitting in that quiet theater seeing stories of people you will never meet and of those you who may already know.

At the very least you will leave with a story of your own to tell.  

For ticket information click here: The Most Amazing Show on the Planet.            
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