THE HIGH CAPTAIN Comes To Hollywood Fringe
When playwright and documentary filmmaker Joe Jatcko watched the insanity of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections unfold--from the schoolyard madness of the Republican primaries all the way through the made-for-reality debates to the shocking results that split a nation-- he realized such surreal times called for an equally surreal response.
Jumping at the opportunity to direct, Eric Cire is thrilled to present this original, poignant and intoxicating dark comedy at The Hobgoblin Playhouse this June as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
The story centers on a crew of shipwrecked barge workers as they attempt to set up a government on their desert island home, a task complicated by the fact they are continually high on their vessel's petroleum cargo. Faced with the challenges of forming a new nation, sides are taken, and an election is held to determine the new "captain" of the island. Holding a mirror to our own often-bizarre political reality, The High Captain examines a society attempting to withstand its own battles with jingoism, racism, and power of corruption--but also shows the villagers' love of country and extreme measures they would take to defend its independence.
"It was sometime during the 2016 Republican primary, right around the time candidates 'hand sizes' were coming into question that made me wonder what could be more absurd than this," Jatcko recalled. "So I wrote the most absurd thing I could think of, which turned out to be extremely cathartic." Asked if after writing it the current political climate appears any less ridiculous than one whose leaders are high on gas fumes, Jatcko responded, "I'm really not sure."
For this project, Jatcko drew inspiration from his work as a documentary filmmaker. The High Captain's themes are informed by two recent projects: Built by Zidell and Friends of Momance that explore his country from within and abroad.
The show had its world premiere in Jatcko's home city, Portland, OR, earlier this year at The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works. After appearing in many publications' "must see" recommendations and drawing rave reviews from audiences, Jatcko decided the show was ready for Hollywood Fringe. Jatcko hopes the next stop will be a production coinciding with the 2018-midterm elections. As for Fringe, he's excited to see how audiences react to the participatory aspect of the show, which encourages the them to consider themselves part of the voting populace.
"Its concept--people setting up a desert island government while high on gas--seeks to immediately disarm the audience regardless of political stripe, and takes them on a surreal tropical vacation they didn't know they needed," Jatcko said. "I truly hope The High Captain is an opportunity for us all to forget about today's cynical political climate and to come laugh together, cry together, gain some perspective, and maybe even a little hope."