Is It Theater?
Agit-prop performance piece at CSUMB raises toxic-waste awareness.
Thursday, May 21, 1998
While most theater in the area has slipped into the revival of comfortable, non-threatening plays, there was a performance piece this week at CSUMB that at least strove to make a social impact in the community.
The full performance was presented once only, at noon on Wednesday. As described by CSUMB student Julie Beeck, who created the piece as part of her senior Capstone project, the project sought to alert students about the existence and dangers of various chemicals found on and around campus. Nineteen men (and one mannequin) dressed in white suits--resembling the outfits worn by the crew cleaning up the hazardous materials found near campus--gathered near the flagpole on campus and found their place amidst a ring of barrels, each representing a specific chemical. A video showed the cleanup crew at work while an audio tape played music by Dub Congress. The group then marched through campus to the Visual Arts Building.
Ironically, Beeck didn''t necessarily think of the work as theater.
"I guess it would be theatrical because it is a performance," says Beeck. "But I''ve never thought of myself as very theatrical."
And it may be a stretch to call Beeck''s work "theater" by local and contempoary standards. But it does call up ghosts of agit-prop theater from the ''20s and ''30s, and political street theater from the ''60s. At a time when most producers are settling for light comedies, personal dramas, classics and/or musicals that have little to do with contemporary issues--and which only touch symbolically, at best, on local politics or problems--Beeck says she hoped to create "a sort of ''invading'' psychological impact" in her community.
"We see the people on the outside of the campus in their white suits," says Beeck, "but they never come in. I want students to know that it''s happening right here, not just on the perimeters of the campus."
Rather than writing a paper or taking a more "scientific" approach to the issues at CSUMB, Beeck says she chose to approach it through a performance "because that''s all been done and all that information is on the Internet."
"There''s so much information that students aren''t reading it," says Beeck. "It''s just another way to get the information to the community in a non-confrontational way. Plus, because graduation is this Saturday, it will offer a great opportunity. There will be a lot of parents and family that wouldn''t usually be exposed to this kind of art."
A reprise performance of Beeck''s work will be presented throughout the day on Friday, from 8am to 5pm in Building 73 on campus. Although the performance won''t be as focused--only seven people are participating, and they will be drifting in and out of the building, and throughout the campus--the barrels, costumes and other items will make their own silent statements during the day. cw
Friday & Saturday, 7:30pm. Performance Art. MacAvoy Lane portrays the celebrated author in a one-man show. If you''re a Twain fan, this is a performance you don''t want to miss. Lane has been doing his Twain impressions for 10 years and has logged more than 2,000 performances everywhere from Leningrad University to C-SPAN television. He also portrayed Twain in A&E''s biography of the author and the Discovery Channel''s documentary, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Evening performances are about an hour-and-a-half in length, and Lane also presents discounted 1/2-hour, family-oriented matinees on Saturday and Sunday, at 1pm and 2pm. The Wharf Theater, Old Fisherman''s Wharf, Monterey. 649-2332. $15/general; $10/children. Through: 5/31.
Friday & Saturday, 8:30pm. Comedy. English comedian Tony Morewood returns to Monterey with an all new comedy in which he plays more than a dozen different roles. Over the past three years, Morewood has become one of the most popular performers in Unicorn''s "Second Stage" series. Since his last appearance here with How to Become an American, Morewood has attained his own television comedy show in England. (Reservations are advised for this show, Morewood has regularly sold out his previous gigs at Unicorn.) Part of Unicorn''s Works in Progress series.. Unicorn Theater, Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. 649-0259. Through: 5/23.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo''s Nest
Friday & Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Dramatic Comedy. Magic Circle Theater''s Elsa Con directs Dale Wasserman''s classic adaptation of Ken Kesey''s novel. It''ll be interesting to see how this production interprets the script. While most productions take the work literally--as the struggle of inmate Randle P. McMurphy against asylum officials--Kesey''s original work rang with bitter condemnation of society at large, and its need to figuratively lobotomize dissidents. The cast features some strong local performers (including Peter Reynolds, Roo Hornady, Rob Foster and Michael Robbins) who have the
potential to create a show that is thoughtful, humorous and moving all at the same time. Carl Cherry Center, Guadalupe Street and 4th Avenue, Carmel. 659-8244. Through: 6/21.
Performance Brunch Series
Sunday, 11:30am. Spoken Word. John Schatz presents "I Haven''t a Clue," --stories, poems and occasional songs. The General Store/Forge in the Forest, Junipero Street and 5th Avenue, Carmel. 624-2233. $14/includes brunch/general.
Friday & Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Comedy. About a year ago, Layne Littlepage debuted her one-woman show, An Evening with Beatrice Lillie (a comedienne from the ''40s and ''50s) to critical favor. This show condenses the Lillie material and adds Littlepage''s characterization of Julie Andrews. Littlepage, who spent a couple decades as a singer and actress in New York, offers up music that is associated with both performers (so look for Broadway music from My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. With direction from Kathy Deskin-Jacobs and musical direction from Barney Hulse, this should be an entertaining evening of theater lite. Monterey Peninsula College, 980 Fremont St., Monterey. 646-4213. Through: 5/31.
Friday & Saturday, 8pm. Melodrama. Classic melodrama about the evils of drink. California''s First Theater, Scott and Pacific streets, Monterey. 375-4916. Through: 5/31.
The Time Machine
Saturday, 2&4pm. Children. Primarily a show for children, this original show by Carey Crockett follows the exploits of a pair of young children who travel through time with a laptop computer. Ultimately, in the future, "they have to save the world from a raptor who''s come through time. The kids are the heroes and learn how to interact with humans, rather than with TV." Part of Unicorn''s Works in Progress series. Unicorn Theater, Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. 649-0259. Through: 5/30.
Wilde About Oscar
Thursday, 7:30pm; Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Comedy. Carey Crockett presents a one-man show about the life and times of the flamboyant, controversial playwright Oscar Wilde. Crockett premiered the show last year to general praise and this presentation marks a new stage in the show''s development. Part of Unicorn''s Works in Progress series. Unicorn Theater, at Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. 649-0259. Through: 5/24.
Pacific Repertory Theater is looking for actors, actresses and stage fighters to appear in their annual "Human Chess Game" during the theater''s annual Monterey Bay Theaterfest, 6/27-7/19. Phone Julie or Stephen for interview/audition appointment. 622-0700.