Week Eight of 365 Plays/365 Days was hosted by the Watts Village Theater Co. in three locations -- the Studio Space downtown, the Ford over in Hollywood, and the Watts Towers. This was not, as I initially thought when I looked at the schedule, because they thought certain people would be afraid to come to Watts after the sun goes down, but because this is one of the floating companies. They don't have a home base for performances so they throw down wherever they can. The Ford is pretty at night, the towers are pretty during the day, so show times were set to take best advantage of each venue's strengths. Because they used the outdoor spaces, this meant that on one night the cast performed when it was freezing and raining, while on another night they performed when it was freezing and wind-storming.
I went to the show at the towers because it had been a couple of years since I'd last zipped down there to marvel those lovely art things made by a crazy person. Happily, it was sunny and warm, which I wasn't expecting, so I'm standing there in three layers of sweatshirts. This week's plays were:
- Here We Go (Jan 1)
- We Are Fresh Out of Canned Laughter, Get Some Off the Television (Jan 2)
- 2 Marys (Jan 3)
- The News is Here (Jan 4)
- The Star of India (Jan 5)
- The Birth of Tragedy (Jan 6)
- Call Girl (Jan 7)
What's interesting about the play sets is they are often a mix of hilarity and profoundly disturbing. (I managed to find people who saw some of the weeks I missed...combining their descriptions with my thoughts on the ones I did catch earlier I am confident with making this blanket statement.) Some of them are in a sense full plays, just very short. Others are closer to vignettes, dropping in to glimpse an emotional moment and then out again. Every once in a while there's one I term a Conceptual Moment, meaning you have no idea what just happened, really, but are pleased to have experienced it. There are a few Conceptual Moments where you know exactly what happened, but when you describe it later you realize you can only do so poorly. The result is people staring at you, blinking and then changing the subject. So far my favorite 'understandable' CM is "The Window of Opportunity," which was one of the opening night plays. Unfortunately, I lost my notebook for week five and I didn't take notes at all for week one due to spazzing, so I can't say more about the CMs we've seen so far. Perhaps that's for the best.
To me, most of week eight was comprised of full plays (2-5, 7). The CMs were 1 &6.
3: Two women, one chattier than the other in a pushy friendly sense, sitting out on the patio taking in the nice day. As one blabs on, ignoring the disinterest of the other, the unseen husband of the blabber rains down verbal abuse. The non-blabber reacts with increasing alarm to the abuse until the blabber steps back inside to deal with her husband. We don't see it, but we hear him beg and plead for mercy. When the blabber returns, revealing her nickname to be 'Bloody Mary,' the women realize they have a lot in common and begin a friendship.
5. Think of the variety shows they used to do on vaudeville or The Gong Show. The barker/emcee gives us a delightful rundown of the unseen act involving a family of sword swallowers that just left the stage, and sets up the next act. But there's been a misprint in the program. Instead of "The Star of India," a contortionist, the next performer is "The Star of Indiana," a top regional salesman. The barker rolls with it, finding a way to turn the salesman into an act, and the salesman steps up to the challenge, mainly by being himself. Both of those guys were hilarious. This was my second fave of the set.
7. This one actually borders on a CM. Two bachelors with a playboy vibe at home get a visit from a call girl. The call girl is never seen...she's outside by a streetlight and it seemed as if *she* were calling *them* to come service her. I have no idea why the phone was represented by a woman standing in their house holding a pink phone, but I like the way she did the different rings.
Most disturbing! That would be 2, and it was brilliant. What she did was take one scenario and repeat it from a different emotional view. The exact same dialog was used for both versions, but the meaning completely changed due to the approach the actors used for each. For the first take, a man and child are watching a sitcom on television, and it is clear that the man has been sexually abusing the child. They are interrupted when the wife comes home from work, where she has had a bad day. She has a low self-esteem vibe and just wants comfort and a bit of nookie from her man, but he treats her with callous indifference, hurting her feelings. They sit and watch the sitcom, he uncomfortable, she oblivious. The end. For the second take, the child is an aggressive Lolita whose innuendos the man pointedly ignores, when he's not fending her off physically. When the wife shows up, she is a ball busting, judgmental bitch who makes it clear she thinks he is a waste of flesh. They sit and watch the sitcom, both unhappy. The end. This one was most excellent, and my fave of the set.
Second place most disturbing! 4. This one also had a science fiction vibe. A black couple are at home watching the riot going on outside. The guy rushes outside and rescues a baby, who is white, and the couple spend a lot of time rejoicing at their luck and how much money they're going to make for their act of heroism, though it's unclear if they planned to sell *the baby* or sell *their story*. But soon they realize something's wrong with the kid. He's white, but not quite human, making him worthless. The guy throws the baby out of the window, where it hits the ground, stands up and runs off, confirming their suspicions. They go back to watching the riot, realizing they didn't want all that money and the lifestyle it would bring, anyway.
Now, with this one I know I'm missing something. The name they called the baby when they realized it wasn't fully human is a word I *think* I've heard associated with Satanism and/or with European deathmetal bands. But I didn't *quite* catch the word, I don't have time to hunt around an approximation of it trying to find its meaning, I didn't want to go over to Lori-Parks after the show was over to ask her since I was busy going over to Lori-Parks to take a picture of her, and my prime go-to genius who would figure it out in a second is dead. So I think there was a substrata to #4 that has gone over my head.
I'm not saying anything about 1 & 7 because they were seriously CM.
Week Nine of 365/365 will be held at the Boston Court in Pasadena.
I was joined by Didi Who Needs A Codename, who lives in a provincial area without adequate 365 participation, which means he had to drive for hours to catch any of the shows. It also meant that afterward we had to go hunt down a baseball place in Compton because Didi is a baseball freak. I'm like, baseball? Compton? What?! I thought we were gonna get food! Exposing me to sports is a bait and switch!! But as this is long enough already, I'll put that adventure in a later post.