I feel like I’ve been kind of a bummer so far here at Bitter Lemons. All I’ve done is complain and pick fights. So, I apologize. It’s February. There’s no good sports on. I get cranky. Forgive me. But it’s like 80 degrees in Santa Monica today and I’m feeling jovial, so let’s turn things around. In the spirit of that sentiment, I give you 5 Theater Things Currently Making Me Happy:
Remember how before, I was talking about how theater can use Twitter and similar technology in far more productive ways than simply as marketing tools or, at best, a way for audience members to talk to each other. Well, this essay and the people at Woolly Mammoth have taken that notion and gone way bigger. They’re talking about entirely new systems that are being designed for audiences to communicate with a play digitally. Wave of the future. We shall survive.
In the spirit of the future and interactivity and cybernarratives and hoverboards, I went to a meet-up a few weeks back convened by Transmedia LA. These are people interested in the ways that films and video games and music are all kinda converging right now at these unique, online experiences. One that everyone there was twittering about was this documentary/website/game called Bear 71 that blew up at Sundance this year. So technically, this isn’t a theater thing. But look at the way the interactivity of the site provokes confrontation with theme in the same way that theater’s natural intimacy does. There’s something to be learned from this.
Oh man, I love everything about this. I love that there is a splash zone in the front row because of all the fake blood. I love that there is a high school in the world that would allow this to happen and I love that it’s in L.A.. I love this quote, “Previous student productions were Peter Pan and Hello, Dolly, says Assistant Principal Ken Martinez — ‘so this is a marked departure.’” And I love James Abroms, the student who figured out all the bloody, special effects. “We used a douche attached to a tube, and glued to a pipe and attached to an actor’s arm, for the arm-bleeding moments like dismemberments, and an air-pressure device that shoots blood out of a tube on an actor who gets shot in the head while singing about building a snowman.” That’s gangster, James. Gangster.
Look at the size of that dragon! Look at how lifelike it is! Can you imagine being in the same room as that thing?! Good God!
The video is of a preview demonstration for the upcoming How To Train Your Dragon live show that’s going to tour arenas in Australia starting very soon. According to The Brisbane Times, the show will include “at least 24 dragons…acrobats and aerial artists, projections and flying creatures. The five-tier set will be backed by a 60-metre screen and the action will unfold on 1000 square metres of stage studded with projectors to provide an immersive experience…” Yes. I am in. The ten-year old me would have lost his mind over this. Like, my eyes would have rolled back in my head and my brains would have shot out my ears from the sheer overload of it all. Actually, 30-year old me is losing his mind over this.
I realize now that, beneath all the layers of heady, intellectual nonsense, it’s the giant dragon puppets that keep me in the game.
In no particular order:
The Bog Lacuna, by Ben Rosenthal
Little Eyes, by Cory Hinkle
Children At Play, by Jordan Seavey
Fever/Dream, by Sheila Callaghan
Dark Radio, by Colin McKenna
Jon, by Seth Bockley
Future Anxiety, by Laurel Haines
Dani Girl, by Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond
A Maze, by Rob Handel
What Once We Felt, by Ann Marie Healy
Next week, we will resume my ongoing series, The Many Theater Things Currently Making Me Angry.
About the Author: Dylan Southard is the co-Artistic Director of needtheater and previously served as their resident dramaturg and literary manager. Production dramaturgy credits for needtheater include: Fatboy, Mercury Fur, Scarcity, tempOdyssey, and The Web. He also directed needtheater's world premiere production of Guided Consideration of a Lamentable Deed. He is the resident dramaturg for The Robey Theatre Company at the Los Angeles Theater Center, where he runs the advanced playwrights lab and helps to oversee new play development. He is also an associate artist with the international, new script development group LoNyLa, and works as a script consultant for theaters, including The Center Theatre Group, The Geffen Playhouse, The Theatre @ Boston Court, and Native Voices at the Autry. He trained for two years under a dramaturgy fellowship at Centerstage in Baltimore and is a graduate of Wesleyan University.