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I'm an NYC-based director, and this is an outlet for my various musings about theater and about the city of New York. Sometimes the subjects run together, sometimes they are entirely separate, but between the two they comprise the most fitful, most intense, most trying love affair of my few years. They fill my head, my heart, my mouth every hour of every day; they could fill a book.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Inventive or Gimmicky?

I don't know if this is a legitimately interesting way to stage a piece, or just a big old gimmick, but I really wish I had found out about The Rubber Room before today. The idea (in case you don't feel like following the link) is that the same play is given to 5 different directors, each with an entirely different 5-person cast, and no communication between casts. Each night, one person from each cast goes on, never having performed with the other four before. The idea (presumably) is that each night is a fresh and totally unique depiction of five characters who really are meeting for the first time.

I would have liked to know whether it added new dimension to the text - and I think it could have - or if the concept was just that: concept-y and distracting. I'm also sort of fascinated by New York's rubber rooms and the multiplicity of two-sided stories that arise from them. The rubber room idea itself is a two-sided story. You can't just - for example - fire a teacher who's been accused of sexual misconduct without a fair inquiry, especially given how easily and carelessly a particularly manipulative child could throw around those accusations. But you can't very well keep them in the classroom around children either. So... what? What are the options there? And the concept works for the subject matter; five people with stories that can be seen from a host of perspectives merit a host of perspectives in the the interpretation of the play. Right? But did it actually work?

I'll never know. Regardless of whether it turned out to be a gripping piece of theater or a hokey gimmick, I would have loved to have seen it, would have loved to have been involved with it. Damn, damn, damn.

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