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2005-05-12 20:35:15.746349+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

Forest[Wiki] came out to visit us last week, and Sunday evening we sent him off for an airplane and Zack[Wiki] moved in for this one. Charlene and I are both recovering from the Poison Ivy of the last few weeks, and would love to be able to just hang out without company, something that's a few days off at best, but in the mean time we're having fun with kids.

Zack[Wiki] is notoriously bad about telling us what he's doing, and he's needed some rides over to school in the evenings, so we've been hanging around there, hoping to catch a glimpse of him in his various activities.

The activities are centered around a different approach to drama in high school. Drake normally has an incredibly good drama program, but the facilities are being renovated and there are currently no good auditoriums. So they did something amazing: Over the next few weeks there will be over 30 original student written, directed and acted productions, each under an hour, each presented several times. Shows at 6, 7 and 8, in several different rooms, geared for small audiences, patterned after the "fringe festivals". We've seen three so far, and as you'd expect they haven't been blow-us-away quality, but I think overall we've been at least as satisfied with the entertainment value per hour as we would have been, say, renting movies.

As you'd expect with high school authors (and the productions that Zack[Wiki] would be attracted to) they've all tended towards the surreal: Two strangers wake up in a hotel room to discover that time seems to have disappeared; life in a small upstate New York town where the local serial killer is on a first name basis with the police chief, and appears to be more sane; that sort of thing. Sometimes the acting is uneven, this many productions means everyone gets a starring role, and sometimes the improv when a line gets forgotten means we have to dig a little harder for the subtext; sometimes the direction involves way too many set changes, live theater ain't television. However, while we've walked out of each one with ways the show could have been better, I've been entertained in each one. Even (or perhaps especially) the last, which went for total dada surrealism, and from which we wandered out saying "what the hell was that?" after laughing (with a packed room) for 45 minutes straight.

If you've got a kid at Drake and wonder where they've been disappearing to these recent nights, definitely wander down there.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Interactive Drama Humor Aviation Bay Area Theater & Plays ]

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#Comment Re: made: 2005-05-13 12:53:27.189745+00 by: petronius

There are lots of things you can do with small theatrical venues. Chicago has an amazing theater scene, with lots of tiny troupes working in the back of saloons or storefronts converted under the nose of the building inspectors. One group is doing a piece about people in a late-night laundrymat, in a late-night laundrymat. You go the the Wash N Save on Damen avenue and there's room for 16 audience members. Last year they put on a show in the men's room of the Y. The most intriguing one I've heard of was a group that did the same 30 minute two man show 3 times each evening. It took place in a Yellow Cab. You sat in the back and listened to the dialog between the driver-actor and the passenger-actor. Only one audience member per show.