Monday, October 10, 2011

eXtremely pUblic

Okay, I'm finally back.  I was off doing a show for the past two months and got out of the blogging habit and then the new non-blogging habit stuck so I had to break that.  It's like a cycle with me, I know.

I wasn't signed up for a show this fall but the SM couldn't do it so I got called at the last minute (last two weeks of July to start in August) from this theater that I have never worked with, New Paradise Laboratories.  They do experimental, devised works which, to put it in layman's terms, means making it up as you go along.  But seriously, they do some wild stuff and it's really good.  The Artistic Director, who also works at the Arden, is often referred to as a mad genius.  He's also one of the only directors I know who does racy, adult stuff with New Paradise and then directs these amazing children's shows at the Arden.

This show was entitled Extremely Public Displays of Privacy.  It had an entirely different format from what you expect from a theater show.  The first act was a website where you learned about Fess Elliot and her budding "friendship" with Beatrix Luff.  See, Fess is this 40 something mother and music teacher who used to be in a band.  She walked off the stage one day "fed up with the bullshit of the music business," became a teacher and got married.  In Act 1, you learn that on ChatRoulette one night she meets Beatrix and plays a song for her.  Beatrix loves the song, they become Facebook friends, and Bea starts remaking Fess' songs and adding videos, etc.

So Fess wants to meet Bea.  But before she can do that, Bea makes her go through a series of public displays which brings us to Act 2; a walking tour.  An audience member downloads video onto his/her phone and walks through parts of Center City Philadelphia watching Fess perform these public displays on the phone.  It's hard to explain but you (if you were the audience member) would stand at the fountain and watch Fess jump into the fountain on your phone.  It's pretty neat.  That was the first half of our rehearsal process, filming Act 2.  It was pretty cool: we had middle of the night shoots, early morning shoots.  It felt very Hollywood.  My major responsibility was holding the wipies and driving the van which is probably all I'd be doing in Hollywood.  Although, I'd probably get paid more for it.

So Act 3 is supposed to be a concert that Bea has concocted but Fess is fed up with Bea so she goes into hiding.  The concert is at this secret location that audience members are told at the last minute and a concert does indeed happen plus stories and stuff.  That was the most "normal theater" part of the show.  Well, except for the secret location part.

The whole thing was neat to work on as I had never done devised work before.  Also, the subject matter was close to my heart.  It's really about how Fess, in her 40's might regret giving up her music and trying to figure out how to bring that back into her life.  It's also about how the internet has changed how we view things.  Really, we can get anything we want with just a few clicks of the mouse button.  But is getting that good for us?  Is it what we really want?  The director called the show lonely and it really is because no one else can figure out these answers for us.

If you are interested in checking out Act 1, which I believe is still up, here's the website:  As a side note, the actress who played Fess wrote all the songs for the show herself.  She's a great musician and listening to her music every night was one of the highlights of the production.

I've been thinking about the show for a while now.  My kids are older so I could get a full-time job because they are so much more self-sufficient.  It might also help my attitude since it's getting really, really boring to vacuum again and again and again.  But I love stage managing and I would do it more but that only takes me away from my family too much.  I wouldn't have the vacuuming but I also wouldn't have my family.  Of course, the next questions are:  what type of job do I get?  how do I keep theater in my life?  The show really struck a nerve with me as you can tell.  And I think that's one of the things I love about theater:  how a story can really speak to you and you realize "oh!  I'm not alone, other people feel this way too."  And I don't really want to give that up.  See?!  Can you see my dilemma?


  1. Sounds really interesting Kate. I understand the difficulty of wanting a theatrical job though, the hours are hardly family friendly. Then it won't be long before they're off on their own and you'll wish you'd kept your hand in. Good luck with the decision making!

  2. Wow, what a marvelous concept. I'm old; it took a while for me to wrap my brain around it, but that's fine. I like having to do that.

    The one this I would say, no... I would YELL, jumping up and down. I would do this and let someone capture it on the phone and send it to you, but that would be scary...

    IF it is financially viable, KEEP doing what you love on the non-fulltime schedule so you can be there as you want to, for your family. Do not give up something that is a passion. I can feel a thousand closing in on sixty-year-old women joining in the chorus. Perhaps instead of vacuuming, you can find other theater-related ways to keep abreast of developments and find other opportunities you've not even dreamed of yet.

    My mother had a saying and she did not have a "job." "There's always something more compelling than housework."

    Again, IF the family does not suffer for the lack of income, you keep working at the work that makes you whole, happy, ENGAGED. It will give a lesson to your children that you cannot possibly see yet.

    Okay. I'll shut up now. Or not.

  3. ok conceptually very cool...cant imagine the chaos of working on it though...haha...the giving up of dreams is def a tough subject...will check out the site...

  4. Some fascinating concepts there... Both the show's, and your own.

    Glad to see that you're back.

  5. The idea sounds fascinating and you get the feeling that the audience are just as much participators in the "event" than the actors. Let's hope that the idea catches on - and crosses continents as I suspect I would enjoy seeing such a concept.

  6. Welcome Back Kate.
    Do What You Love:Love What You Do.(vacuums suck!)

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