Tonight is opening night at Theatricum Botanicum for Tone Clusters, a one act play by Joyce Carol Oates for which I served as scenographer. The production stars real-life husband and wife duo, Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James, playing a married couple who are forced, on camera, to address the fact that their oldest son may have murdered a neighborhood girl. It's a remarkably prescient work, in my opinion. Written in 1990, the play presents an absurdist-- yet uncomfortably accurate-- picture of the increasingly blurry boundaries found between news and entertainment and the ways in which contemporary society can commodify personal tragedy.
Alan and Katherine gave a terrific interview about the show to The LA Stage Times, (which you can read in full by clicking here ). AB and KJ spend a bit of the interview discussing my set and the ways in which live media has impacted their performance and the meaning of the show:
James explains, “When you read the play, it is placed indoors, very black box. But at Theatricum, you are outdoors. So, our designer, Sam Gold, has created this space where there are burnt-out old televisions everywhere. We’re sitting in armchairs and behind us there is this giant video screen on which video is projected during the show. Then there are cameras — one on Alan and one on me — that have a live feed to live monitors onstage the whole time.”
Blumenfeld interjects, “It feels like there is movement because there are always cameras in our faces. In a weird way, because of the projected images, it feels like there are four characters instead of just the two of us. And then there is this disembodied voice interviewing us that takes on many different characteristics. The voice is played by the marvelous Jeff Wiesen, who is such an extraordinary actor. I am curious as to where the attention of the audience members will be drawn. It is such a small space and the live characters will be right in front of them — but will the audience be more interested in the images on the screen? What is its draw? And ultimately, that’s one of the messages of the show.”
I wish I was back in LA tonight to catch the show's opening, but I left for New York last week. As a result, I don't have any pictures of the show to share, but I'm hoping to get some soon!
In the meantime, wheels are turning here on the East Coast, where I'm gearing up for the premiere of Echo In Camera at La MaMa later this Fall. Here's me checking out the Ellen Stewart Theatre for the first time:
A lot of history in that building...
But more on that later!
Right now, If you're in the LA area, I highly recommend checking out Tone Clusters. I caught a run-through two weeks ago and, even back then, Alan and Katherine were giving fantastic performances. I can only imagine how strong they've become since then. This isn't a show you'll want to miss!
You can buy tickets here.