99 and Under the Radar: Independent Theatre's Evolution
Welome back to to 99 AND UNDER THE RADAR: A LOOK AT INDIE THEATER'S MOVERS AND SHAKERS, BroadwayWorld's new weekly series that showcases standout productions and production companies from the independent theater scene in New York City. Each week, independent producer Michael Roderick will be discussing the latest goings on in the theatrical wings, highlighting those with potentially bright futures.
This Week's Topic: Independent Theatre's Evolution
As technology becomes more and more a part of everyone's life, theatre companies are choosing to go one of two ways: Ignore and do what they've been doing or adapt to the changing environment. This week will cover some artists and shows that are adapting, and in the process, transforming the idea of what a theatrical presentation is.
First up is Rachel Klein's Tragedy of Maria Macabre which had one sold out performance at Dixon Place and was so well received that it is getting an extension. Klein is a visionary who has taken her skills as a choreographer and a theatrical director and fused them with a team of dancers who create a story that twists and turns all the way down to the very last chord. The story is told entirely through music and dance with the only narration being a series of cards that give the title of each vignette. Klein weaves the characters in and out of moments in history and their mortal lives with comedy, wit, and quirky fashion choices. Her cast of dancers truly throw themselves into the piece and do acrobatics, hula hoop tricks, and a straight jacket dance that is absolutely spectacular. Klein's style acknowledges the changes that movies and special effects have made on our culture by creating her own special effects through costumes, partnering, and eclectic music choices. The show is certainly not to be missed. To get tickets for the encore performance, go here.
Next up is the a show that simultaneously reminds us of the disconnect technology creates and the almost surreal connections technology makes possible. James Carter's Feeder: A Love story welcomes the audience by taking them into a room filled with television screens and cameras and placing them directly in front of what is an enormous amount of food. For those who decided to begin the story online and have checked out the intricate website, the setting is already familiar. For those who have not done so, the setting is disarming. In the center of the room, next to an enormous hole in the wall lays Jesse, played by Jennifer Conley Darling with tubes attached to her staring blankly off into space. The play then begins introducing us to Jesse's husband Noel, played with incredible intensity by Pierre Marc Diennet, who instantly comes into the room and switches on the web cam lamenting the loss of Jesse. At which point two struggles begin: Deciding to watch the video and interact with each character that way or look at the actors live on stage, and deciding whether you are disgusted or absolutely fascinated. Rarely in the theatre does a piece come out that causes one to be so engaged in every moment that time seems to stand still, yet such is the case with this piece masterfully directed by Jose Zayas. Zayas does a tremendous job of keeping the staging simple and elegant so that the audience is given the opportunity to dive into the lives of these two lovers. The premise of the show revolves around a fetish known as "Feederism" where someone is sexually aroused by feeding their mate and watching them get bigger. The ultimate goal here is that the partner eventually grows to such a size that they can no longer walk. The incredible thing about this piece though, is that it less about one fetish, than it is about fetishism and it's toll on relationships. Noel's obsession and Jesse's journey are actually not all that different from the couple next door in which the man would like his wife to be skinnier or the wife would like her husband to dress nicer. Everyone has fantasies and this production exposes the extremes that people go to when fantasy and reality co-mingle and challenges the audience to think about their own fantasies. This is largely due the universality of the writing in Carter's script and the brutally honest portrayal of each of these characters played by Darling and Diennet. Feeder is a glimpse of how theatre and technology can feed each other and will leave it's audience with a lot to think about. To grab tickets before the fill up, go here.