I love this video because it shows a lot of the huge process that went into creating our adaptation (written by myself and Jennifer Fawcett) of Charles Yu’s science-fiction novel. The play had one live performer and 11 projection surfaces. We filled those screens (and the walls and the floor) with a ton of films that we shot over the two months before the play opened. As you can see in the video, it took a lot of planning, hustling, ingenuity, and ton of good friends to pull it off.
Tag / Directing
An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
On the subject of race, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is our country’s most original and illuminating playwright. An Octoroon (the 2014 OBIE Award for Best New American Play) is his unclassifiable adaptation of an 1859 melodrama about illicit interracial love. It is, by turns, riotously funny, gut-wrenchingly disturbing, and always brave. It might just be the most challenging drama that I ever staged for Available light.
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It all started when I read Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. I realized I had no idea about how the world economy worked. That was in early 2008. At that time, if you were paying attention, it wasn’t hard to see that something bad was on its way. And so, as money matters all over were spiraling out of control, I was writing a show about it. Available Light was ready, in early 2009, to help people understand what was happening, and why.
Of course, we staged our explanation of those intricate topics as a conceptual trip through the 20th century, filled with music and movement, plus nods to Buster Keaton, Douglas Sirk, and Rambo. We even explained the housing crisis by drawing it out on the floor with chalk. One of the highlights was this rap tune, “The Economic Hitman,” based on Perkins’ book. (What, you thought all that history-rap started with Hamilton?.)
Remain in Light
Jay Weitz wrote a wonderful article about Remain in Light, I encourage you to read it: Bleakness and Light, by Jay Weitz.
Remain in Light is:
– a collage of movement, moments, songs, and visions.
– a practical handbook for being a better whatever you already are.
– a show for anyone seeking more joy and well being.
RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: big questions, reflecting on what it means to be human, curiosity, ambiguity, Pema Chodron, David Byrne
Bootleg Radio (written and directed by Jennifer Schlueter and myself) is one of the productions that most fills me with pride. It was a gloriously weird theatrical collage. We put together a huge team of incredible collaborators from all over the United States and made sure that each of them left their mark of the finished production. It was overflowing with music, movement, poetry, and hope.
Skyscrapers of the Midwest
More than a year in the making, this genre-bending adaptation of Joshua Cotter’s critically-acclaimed graphic novel followed two young siblings through the joys and pain of their innocent, 1980s childhood in the heartland, complete with dinosaurs and giant robots. We combined layered animated videos with live-streamed action to stimulate the imagination of the young protagonist.
Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom
Julius is more than a century old. He lives and dies and lives again in a happy dystopia, when everyone is online all the time, the only wealth is respect, and modern technology has eliminated work, boredom, and death.
Only Cory Doctorow, renowned digital rights activist and coeditor of Boing Boing dot net, could see so clearly into the near-future. Luckily, he’s handed his visions down to us in the form of this outrageous and unpredictable playground of ideas.
This was a really challenging novel to adapt for a live performance. We created a language of gestures to convey a lot of the digital-mental events, and shot a few short films to use as flashbacks. All the backdrops were digital, too. We tried to make the whole show feel like an attraction at The Magic Kingdom.
And, wow! Look at those costumes. That was Michelle Dranschak’s work.
John Cage 101
After making John Cage 101, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing in the theatre. (At that point I’d been doing it for almost 20 years, but who’s counting?) In the play, we celebrated the 101st year of the Cage era with a theatrical mixtape – just think of it as 38 Short Plays About John Cage – reflecting the renegade life and controversial ideas of the 20th century’s most influential experimental composer.