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Ganglia: Instructions for the Symbiogenesis

April 24th, 2013 No comments

gangliaWent over to Pittsburgh on Sunday to see Peter Roth’s play Ganglia. This is the second time that I’ve been over to Bricolage, the first was for Midnight Radio several years back, which is a really cool experience. Each time I’ve been to Bricolage I’ve been impressed by the quality of the productions they have, as well as the quality of the lobby experience. That’s right. The lobby experience. Each production I’ve been to has interactive “exhibits” in the lobby that engage the audience. This most recent was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had filling out a demographic survey: moving around interacting with various displays.

Peter received a very good reading of his play, which is a quasi-B movie scifi send up of brain-invading parasites, love, and relationships. It is, at base, an examination of human relationships (sexual, friendships), their failings, their triumphs, uncertainties seen through an attempt by aliens to understand and, to some extent, suppress them. Peter is a good playwright, though, and the consideration of these subjects is surprising, funny, and never simplistic or passe. Each character is unique, has a strong voice and purpose, and the play continues to leave me thinking about them.

Midnight Radio: Cowboys and Aliens

July 30th, 2011 No comments

At Peter Roth’s invitation and encouragement I drove over to Pittsburgh last Saturday night to attend Midnight Radio 3: Cowboys & Aliens at Bricolage.

Using my trusty GPS I landed nearly infront of the place on Liberty Avenue, parked, and promptly went into a proximate bar and had an Arrogant Bastard.

At quarter to 9 the lobby at Bricolage was packed. I was handed a small form to fill out where I had to choose whether I would be on Team Alien or Team Cowboy: I went the cowboy route for obvious reasons. Bricolage threatened attendees with an audience participation segment that would result from a drawing of the form midway through the show. The lobby is a storefront, and in the two storefront windows landscapes where setup (desert and space) wherein you could don some costume pieces and take photographs. Complementary munchies were provided of the cowboy and alien type: nachos and salsa and jello shots. Beer, etc., was available with a contribution. There was a mingling, party atmosphere penetrated occasionally by the huckstering of a man selling swag.

At around 9 the house was opened and the lobby streamed in. We sat up and toward the back left and then looked upon the stage. Perhaps “beheld” is a better word, as the stage held a wonderous toyland. At stage right there was a selection of microphone booms and arms and microphones and radio sound effect set pieces: a car door framed by wood; a small door with frame; boots in a box of gravel; a large piece of sheet metal to wave, rattle, or strike, etc. Upstage center were mikes at left and right while down center were three mikes facing left, right, and up with music stands. At left was another mike and further up the tech booth. On the upstage wall there was a projection which currently showed the Midnight Radio log. Up center was a good old-fashioned “On Air” indicator, currently off. And up left was an “Applause” sign, dark.

After the announcements, the stage space dimmed and the performers walked to their respective stations. A flamboyant and stylish mike check was undertaken all about the stage, with mikes emerging from odd locations and demos of shoes walking on gravel, strange voices, odd effects, etc. Then the show began.

There were commercials, announcements, Peter’s piece (Hank & Buster v. Orson Welles), Fake News –think Fox News and Glenn Beck with very little need for exaggeration at all, really. Plus an actual radio program (The Mimic) from the 50’s. Great musical interludes were provided by Slim Cessna and his son. Midway through the two raffle winners were brought out for the team alien/team cowboy segment (like the gameshow Password) The characterization of the actors was fantastic as they switched from role to role and did voice impressions as well as hustled around to create the various sound effects. It was, at once, theater and most definitely radio, too. Apparently, at some point, the episodes will be available on iTunes.

Midnight Radio in Pittsburgh is definitely worth going to see and worth the 2+ hour drive over.

Another blog about the event.

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