Posts Tagged ‘Mike Geither’

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?


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

Tear it Off

August 15th, 2015 No comments

Tear it OffTear it Off. Get to it. See it. Experience it. Mike Geither hit a homerun with this play about two lonely sisters who pass their time recording their enactments of romance novels that they’re writing. Like the playful games and skits children enact, the two sisters, Beth (Lucy Bredeson-Smith) and Bridget (Lauren B. Smith), create the stories in three dimensional space: sneaking, exploring, eating, paddling canoes, and scaling the terrain of their imaginations. It’s like watching a devised theater piece being created, except the lonely sisters actually know how to tell a story.

It’s conceivable that the two sisters could have gone on like this forever, but for the visitation of Charles, the handyman/plumber (Terrence Cranendonk) who becomes the object of obsession for both sisters, who don’t miss a beat in including him in their story. Tensions rise. Shirts are torn off. Sex is in the air.

Charles has a brother, Tim (Beau Reinker), who quickly comes to the aid of this bodice-ripping plot by filling the role of the sinister brother. A petty crook all his life, Tim quickly complicates things for Charles and the sisters.

I’m not going to spoil the story for those of you reading this by revealing the turns of Geither’s tale, but it is sufficiently entertaining for you to go and watch it yourselves. Geither creates a magnificent landscape of the mind while using a sparse set. Limited props are used effectively: glasses, pitcher, water, tape recorder, a coin, a shirt, a book, a phone. But perhaps most effective is the braids of two stories: one imagined and one real, that entwine to tangle the lives of the people in Geither’s play.

Directed by Karin Randoja (who directed Mike’s hilarious play Living Tall) many years back, and who does a fantastic job keeping this story moving along while letting the fantastic actors make their choices in dynamic splendor.

Well worth the time and money. Get to convergence and Tear it Off. Runs through September 5.

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