Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fringe 2009 - FFA 2 - Masha 3000

"Intersections With Candace! We take you out into the actual world, where two real streets meet, so you don't have to!"

Erin Search-Wells

Masha 3000

Local comedienne Erin Search-Wells takes Chekhov's Masha and launches her into the future. Vexed and huffy, Masha 3000 is surrounded by floating screens, voice-protected videos, and multiple online aliases.

Both the video and the preview beg the question - if the character in the play looks genuinely bored, unhappy or in pain, why in God's name would you want to participate in a scenario that requires the artist to put themselves through that? And why would you not also find yourself bored, unhappy or in pain watching it?

The artist is clever. There's no doubt about that. The "Intersections With Candace" online service is an example of how to take something as seemingly benign as GoogleEarth and take it to its absurd extreme, where people just plug into the world remotely and never leave the house again.

But that idea was an extended sound cue. In fact, the whole preview was an extended sound cue. We listened to the sound cue, and watched the character dance half-heartedly. The character didn't want to listen to the sound cue, seemed to be actively trying to ignore the sound cue, in which case, why are we in the audience listening to it?

This will be multimedia show, with lots of sound and video, which is notoriously hard to excerpt for a showcase. Kudos to the artist for at least giving it a try. But theater about technology to me often feels like substituting a stuffed animal for a living pet.

After the Fringe-For-All, I saw the artist out on the sidewalk enlisting a friend to read some material for the show while she videotaped him. They were recording in the ambient light spilling out of a closed storefront. The storefront seemed to be a place where they sold mounted animal heads (or, as my friend who watched this scene with me called it, The Creepy Store). Now *that* was a preview I kind of wanted to watch. It was scrappy and inventive and makes me curious about how the video will be used in the final show. I wish her well. I don't think Fringe-For-All did her any favors.

Her show page

The Fringe's YouTube page should have the Fringe-For-All clip up in the coming days, so check back there. Meanwhile, we have...

Her video trailer of pain...

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