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Posts Tagged ‘Convergence Continuum’

Holiday Giving — Do Your Part

December 2nd, 2016 No comments

We’ve entered the giving season, so I thought I’d write about one organization, other than Playwrights Local that is, to which I’m giving my money.

I’m writing about a black box theater in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. A theater company that changed my theatrical life, and radically altered my perception of how intimate, how powerful, how threatening, and how exhilarating theater can be.

petrol23I was introduced to convergence-continuum in 2007, when Mike Geither took me to see Chris Johnston’s play Spawn of the Petrolsexuals. The experience was fundamentally altering. Chris wrote a play about a dystopian, bombed-out landscape in which homeless superheroes fought brutal, oil-hungry Commandoids that I can only compare to the Enclave, for those of you familiar with Fallout. There was Angerboy, and Freegrrl, Ingen and Holyman. It reminds me, now looking back, of an early Eric Overmyer play, like Native Speech. The set the convergence created was a character in the play: fabricated steel structures, junk scattered, a broken television set, the massive east wall that was used as movie screen, a motorcycle, a garage door that really opened on Scranton Road, garbage cans, and the trap door near the west wall that leads to the cellar.

Lucy Bredeson-Smith, playing Darkangel—-a sort of black sorceress –- opens the trap door leading down to her underground lair and, as soon as she opens the door: the image of Darkangel looking down is on the movie screen east wall. I watch her descend away from me in the theater. I watch her descend toward me on the screen.

It was too meta. I was IN a B-movie and IN a real theater experience all at the same time. My head swelled to explode. The production was well-executed, but the feeling was raw. I went back two more times to see Chris’ play because I’d never seen anything like it. And this is what I hear whenever I take someone to convergence who has never been to convergence. The person who accompanies me is blown away, overwhelmed with a theater experience that they’ve didn’t know was possible: to be that close, to be that much a part of the experience, to feel so intensely.

Convergence is a true ensemble company. It’s made up of passionate, wholly committed actors, directors, light designers, sound designers, playwrights, video designers, costumers, set designers, painters, box office managers, and musicians—all volunteers: virtually impossible to believe in many ways. And they are all successful!! Critically acclaimed productions! Awards for acting, design, productions! And all working for the production itself, and not some small rapacious little thing like money or notoriety or any self-proclaimed “groundbreaking” aesthetic.

So, besides this… why give? convergence-continuum, the theater company, doesn’t own The Liminis, the theater space, in which they create their magic worlds! The Liminis space itself, that was so unique to the production I described above—-the garage door, the trap door, the movie screen wall—-all of the three-dimensional feast of experiences possible in a location—-is at risk.

What if theatre weren’t a mirror reflecting the familiar, but an opening into unknown territory? What if there were no fourth wall? What if, instead of going to the theatre to watch a play, you crossed the threshold into the world of the play to experience it? Theatre that expands the imagination and extends the conventional boundaries of language, structure, space, and performance that challenges the conventional notions of what theatre is. What sort of theatre would this be?

convergence-continuum

I’m giving to convergence right now. Please give to them as well.

A Life in Five Acts

December 28th, 2015 No comments

Bob: A Life in Five Acts

Postcard design by Bill Lynn

Postcard design by Bill Lynn

Caught BOB: A life in five acts at convergence on 12/11.

I had the chance to read/hear/participate in this script at my good friend Peter Roth’s house on Monday, September 24, 2012. Man, that’s quite a ways back. So, my interest in seeing the play at convergence was heightened, and I was not disappointed.

As Geoffrey Hoffman, director, noted in the program:

“Bob is an everyman and a representative of The American Dream… He is born with nothing and becomes a passionate adventurer—part myth, part reality, and completely legendary.”

Bob is born in the bathroom of a White Castle, so things can only get better right? He wanders the American landscape, exposing the bankrupt culture that we all have come to know and, eh em, love. From museums to rest stops to casinos and un-earned statues; from waif to sexy man to affluent someone-or-other to side-show barker—- Peter Sinn Nachtrieb makes a fillet of the prototypical American soul. Bob is funny, poignant, and sometimes frightening as we stare down the black rabbit hole that is our American existence.

Bob uses one main character and a chorus: a technique in plays that has come around recently from its old Greek days and which remains a highly versatile tool for play constructing and random character deployment. Doug Kusak is great as Bob and is always fun to see at convergence. I was equally happy to see Robert Hawkes and Katie Nabors, who always shines when she’s on stage: from Poor Little Lulu to The Underpants to certain crazy workshops inspired by Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant with one Jeffrey Frace.

Geoff did a great job of keeping the pace up, the story moving, and discovering innovative uses for the chorus when they were only voices out of the dark… Cool use of multimedia with location projections, as well.

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