Poets Theater at Small Press Traffic

Small Press Traffic started its New Season with a smorgasbord of Poets Theater Friday Night, January 15, 2010

Here's what the program says about each:


The Impertinents
by Rodney Koeneke
directed by Lauren Shufran
cast: David Brazile, Jocelyn Saidenberg, Zack Tuck, Lindsey Boldt.

Restoration comedy goes modern American, wherein rakes turn playa and double entendre gets more barefaced-and rolls up as SMS on your celly.

Turn on the Heat, by A.A. Fair
by Dodie Bellamy
directed by Keven Killian
cast (in order of appearance)

Marian Dunton........Lindsey Boldt
Evaline Harris.......Karla Milosevich
"Amelia Rose Sellar".....Anne McGuire
Vivain Carter....Mari Collings
Dream Women......All of the above plus Michelle Rollman
Mrs. Eldgridge....Tanya Hollis
Strip-tease Dancer....Stephen Boyer
Dora.....Norma Cole
Carmen.....Margaret Tedesco
Frieda Tarbing.....Jocelyn Saidenberg
Flo Danzer....Anne McGuire

A.A. Fair's Turn on the Heat, written in 1940, is a hard boiled private eye novel narrated by little tough guy Donald Lam; in this dramatic version Donald, the narrator, is kept offstage and the women he meets address the plot and the audience entirely in the second person.

You're Not My Father (Part One)
by Paul Slocum
part two to be performed & recorded on Januarty 24th in the CCA Writing Center

*****I N T E R M I S S I O N*****


Praise to the Swiss Federation
by Gabriel Gudding
directed & performed by Michael Cross,et al.

The Event
written & directed by Brent Cunningham
cast: selected from the audience by raffle process

Bidgood Opening--Life on Mars
written & directed by Stephen Boyer
cast: Brittany Murphy, Kevin Killian, Ariel Goldberg, Charity Coleman, West Seegmiller, and Stephen Boyer

Poets Theater 2010 was curated by David Buuck, C.S. Giscombe, and Lauren Shufran.

The evening was all about performativity and bringing the audience into the plays. The atmosphere was carnivalesque with actors launching into the audience, soliciting them for assistance--from reading to acting to the deliberate ringing of cell phones and alarms. David Buuck, standing at the podium on stage, began by introducing the evening's events. It soon became clear that David's remarks were recorded, complete with pauses, sighs and so on, and that he was there on stage mouthing the words, mopping his brow, shifting his weight from one leg to another while the prerecorded intro continued along. Clearly marking the intro as part of the evening's performances, Buuck ate a banana while the speech continued, and then tossed the peel on stage.

In "The Impertinents," Jocelyn Saidenberg's manservant character remarked upon and clambered over the unexpected banana peel. "The Impertinents" proved to be a linguistic treat as the characters--"A," "B," "C," and "D" passed language around like a hot potato. Some of the gems from this piece included, "It is not the journey, it is the restoration," "a dog comes back to its kennel like a tween to texting," "I'm as sexless as a Mormon fellowship," 'How should B be?" "Be impertinent!"

"Turn on the Heat" might be called The Women. As the program notes explain, Bellamy subtracted the male narrator from a hard boiled detective novel and set the glittering cast of women loose, making this their narrative. I've just been rereading Teresa De Lauretis's "Desire in Language and so it was fun to see Bellamy enact her own version of De Lauretis's claim that certain kinds of "myth and narrative rest on a specific assumption about sexual difference"(113). De Lauretis writes, "Medusa and the Sphinx, like the other ancient monsters, have survived inscribed in hero narratives, in someone else's story, not their own; so they are figures or markers of positions--places and topoi--through which the hero and his story move to their destination and to accomplish meaning" (109). So, it was great fun to see this cast of amazingly talented women turn this narrative into multiple narratives, all their own. The heat was indeed turned on and up.

Some lines from "Turn on the Heat": Carmen: "I was a chiseler. You could never trust me. I was too greedy. It was like dope. I wanted to chisel."

"Praise to the Swiss Federation" was directed and performed by Michael Cross and included lots of planned and improvised audience participation. Cross read a piece on time, its keeping and interruptions. Rings and alarms punctuated and diverted Michael's reading as he scrambled to locate the impertinent devices, including his own.

Brent Cunningham sent paper airplanes into the audience and encouraged eager actors to catch one. Thus, a cast was assembled for Cunnigham's own "The Event." The Event began with Cunningham walking on stage and then placing himself face-down on the floor where he peered into a space and exclaimed, "Wow." He was joined by several others, also exclaiming upon the event they "witnessed," encouraging others, "you've got to see this." One person peered into a space on the back wall; the last person on stage put up his sweatshirt hood, gave a pull on its strings, and the hood swallowed his head. He too was wowed. This reminds me of what it is like to watch in-flight movies--one is simultaneously alone and in a public, peopled space--responding to a spectacle, not necessarily the same one (is it ever?) that your neighbor is responding to. All our technological devices--ipods, phones, laptops, etc--make it ever so much more so.

Cunningham also staged "The Immortal Grove," a piece not included on the program and one that staged and explored "failure" or "error." A pair of actors walked hand-and-hand talking, moving finally beyond the auditorium itself, only to be followed by director --Cunningham-- who took the stage and "apologized" for the apparent "mistaken" journey by the actors. Another set of actors appeared on stage, having the same conversation, remaining on stage longer, and then they too drifted out of the auditorium.

Stephen Boyer's "Bidgood Opening" concluded the evening, taking us on a trip to Mars, complete with silvery sheets of paper, toys, and strap on dildos. The finale of this piece was a voluble assault on the audience--"Get Out! Get the Fuck Out!"

A raucous evening, much laughter, and a decided turn toward performativity moving beyond the stage, lines of flight out into the audience.

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