Day: April 1st, 2007

The play’s the thing

Sunday, April 1st, 2007 | All Things, Arts

Another visit to The Public Theater for the April installment of the 365 Days/365 Plays festival.

Public Theater

This time out, the four participating companies (Lightbox, New York Neo-Futurists, New Georges and the Epic Theatre Centre) were staging the Suzan-Lori Parks plays from March 2003, weeks 17-20. It was SYB and CS’s first time to 365 Days/365 Plays, and I wasn’t quite sure how to describe to them what I’d seen in February. Parks composing a play a day for an entire year: the feat alone is noteworthy, and the press has covered the project as if it were some kind of literary stunt. But would the gimmick factor be too high (and the entertainment value too low) to warrant the two hour investment?

Based on my last visit, I didn’t think so, but I was unsure how the other two would respond to the unorthodox theater production. (We’d had success here in the past, and though I didn’t think that either would actually hold me accountable for the show’s quality, I couldn’t help but feel some twinges of responsibility.) After being ushered in — to the Newman Theater this time — we sat through a short introduction describing the year-long project. The first set of young actors took the stage and launched into their assigned series of seven short plays. One after another, the four companies gave Parks’s words their own unique treatments, a synergy of creative effort, and a testament to the diversity of the theatrical interpretations.

Several of the plays were allegorical (complete with mythical beasts), some were domestic scenes, some snippets of a conversation or a song, one familiar tableau, and one just a laundry list of tasks, read against the ticking of a stopclock.

The sheer breadth of style is what one would expect from a playwright who when called upon by NPR to name her favorite scenes, selected the opening of The Sound of Music, along with an ordinary conversation between a cabbie and a 12-year old prosititute in Taxi Driver.

365 Days 365 Plays

Later, at the Astor Place Starbucks, we staved off the grey chill with chai and Rice Krispies treats (or as they’re labeled under the glass: “crispy marshmallow squares.”)

351. Be held.
352. Behold.
353. Be quiet.
354. Be yourself.
355. Be good.
356. Be nice.
357. Be.
358. Pass these tasks out to the audience.
359. Pass these tasks to others among you.
360. Take these tasks with you.
361. Do these tasks.
362. Free someone.
363. Offer an audible response to the performance you’ve just seen.
364. Bow.
365. Go home.

Astor Place

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