BWW Interviews: Michael Mitnick on ED, DOWNLOADED and the Progress of ANIMAL HOUSE The Musical
On behalf of BroadwayWorld Mr. Mitnick, I just have to say how excited we are to have you and this fascinating show coming to the Denver Center!
Thank you, thank you, I'm really excited to be here. We're in the middle of tech right now. I hope we'll have a good show for you.
Tell me a little bit about your new play, Ed, Downloaded?
Yeah, Ed Downloaded is half play, half film. It's a love triangle. The story of a young guy named Ed who's dying from reasons that we don't go into and he's able to take part in a procedure. I should say that the play is set in the near future, and the subtitle is based on an eventual true story. And, he is able to download 10 memories from his life to go on loop, thus constructing a heaven of his own choosing. His fiancé works at one of these places.
There are two rules with the forevertery. One of the rules is that you're not allowed to look in the box to see which memories that people pick, and the second rule is you're not allowed to hook up a camera, speaker, and microphone to these boxes of downloaded minds and make the boxes aware. So, really, when you're in the box, your memories are just going on loop as though you were living them for the first time.
But, Ed has his mind downloaded, and has doubts, and looks inside the box and discovers that 7 out of 10 memories are with a woman that she never met. And that's the premise behind the plot.
How does the multimedia play into this as well, the film part?
So the first act you see is presented as a normal play, but during Ed's trip scene with the other woman, which is a walk in the woods or a clandestine trip to an art gallery, you then see those scenes in the second half on location actually in the woods, actually in an art gallery, and Ed's spurned fiancé, Feline, starts to mess with the memories, removing this other woman, Ruby, and then inserting herself and finally trying to torture Ed for hurting her.
So using multimedia we can have Ed onstage with himself several times in the video, and we can employ the special effect of Feline believing Ruby, replacing herself, and then trying many different variations on the same theme, so you get the fun of seeing the scene that was in act one played out in 20 different variations later and feline trying to correct Ed's mistake and then later making him pay for it.
Where did you receive the inspiration for this interesting concept?
The play started as a commission from the Denver Center about 3 years ago. The only directive was that it use multimedia. I knew when I was getting started with the writing that I didn't want to just use multimedia in projections and scenery as a cheap way to establish either front locations and those kinds of unproduced theme plays onstage. I wanted to make sure that the multimedia element was vital to the story telling and we're trying to do with this play so you can't actually do the play without the video half unless you had just a couple of actors of something of the sort. I'm working with the director, Sam Buntrock, who was nominated for a Tony for his Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George, a brilliant employment of animation to illustrate the creation of that painting. The two of us together, along with Charlie miller who is a good friend of mine and the resident video designer at the Denver Center, maybe multimedia specialist is his title, I'm actually not sure. We wanted to come together and make something that didn't feel fake or tricky, but a real hybrid of film and theatre. And the idea itself just came from the fact that I was reading some articles of life extension and that there might be a play in that idea in cryonics or cloning and came across this idea of memory downloading which has been around for a very long time, except now at this point in history the first time that it's actually possible. The only thing that's stopping it from becoming a procedure today, why we can't leave our homes and download our brains is actually not what I thought.