Friday, September 28, 2007

31 Down at the Prelude Festival in NYC

Hello dear friends and fans of the Village Green. I'm away from my humble village in the big big city, attending the Educational Theatre Association Conference and having a wonderfully theatrical time.

Last night I went to see a piece by a young experimental company called 31 Down. It was part of a festival called Prelude 07. Upon entering the space, we were immediately offered champagne and crackers with cheese whip and olives on top by a wait staff that was continually distracted by cell phones ringing. On the floor, sitting in front of a TV was a young woman in yoga attire doing a series of poses, a cup of yogurt by her side. At an old computer terminal, sat a young man with a headset on, watching a monitor while eating from an enormous bag of popcorn.

At another place on the floor, another young man sat garbed only in his briefs. He too was watching a screen, this one a large TV. He had a gallon of Gatorade and a gallon jar of Miracle Whip, along with a loaf of Wonder Bread and two packs of bologna. His actions involved wrapping the bologna in a piece of bread then dipping it into the mayo and eating it, followed by guzzling of Gatorade and a large belch. Across the room sat a young woman dressed in a long fur coat and Russian fur hat. She was looking into a camcorder and her image was broadcast on all the other screens in the room being watched by the various characters.

Enter "Mike Sharpie" who was dressed in smarmy business attire, giving out his business cards and inviting us to call him. His card told us he was an "Event Planner and Personal Trainer." He kept offering us more champagne, while the young woman bartender got more and more surly while pouring the bottles.

Unfortunately, we could not get through on the phone to Mike -- and that necessarily changed the actions of the performance. However, the ending was strong and did involve lipstick smears on one of the screens, Mike's hand plunged into the jar of mayo and blobs of it sprayed over some audience members -- a form of unexpected audience participation! Mike drew graphics in the smears on the television sets, which was quite an interesting effect, as the video being displayed showed through in curious ways.

At the talk back afterwards (This was a serious, curated show!), we learned that the company was influenced by the old movie "I Am Curious, Yellow." This piece was also influenced by the lack of action/involvement by today's youth regarding protesting the current U$ war in Iraq. I made the comment that if there were a draft today, no doubt that young people would get more involved in protesting.

The inclusion of horrid food substances and all the TV and computer monitors made a powerful visual statement about how complacent and maybe even addicted we are to substances and forms of entertainment that are actually quite deadly to our bodies.

I'm typing this at a cyber cafe. My favorite cafe on 42nd street has vanished and now I'm at one on 49th which is far more expensive, so this is all until I return!

1 comment:

sab said...

I hope you had fun in NYC. I hope you don't bring home any ideas that might infect our midwestern kids. Just kidding. I'm glad we have teachers who care and teachers who learn. God knows our kids need it, and apparently our kids are getting it.