If You Are Carrying a Pizza Box You Can Get Into Any Building
The experimental performance world and the new play development racket are on two sides of the tracks. Nary the twain shall meet. I talk to both of them and feel like a child of a bad divorce, wishing they would talk more to each other. The experimental world is acknowledging the live event, transcending narrative, finding new forms, and touring Europe. The new play world is engineering catharsis, transcending Netflix, breaching new subjects, and existing in a small handful of New York City playhouses.
The work that New Georges is doing is unique. New Georges produces new plays that acknowledge the live experience inherent in theater in a smart and frankly necessary way. And they are written and directed by women.
How to Get Into Buildings, running through December 19 at The Brick, is written by Trish Harnetiaux and directed by Katherine Brook. It features a very wonderful cast including Kristine Haruna Lee and Jess Barbagallo whose humanity delightfully oozes out of them in their playful offering of the language and irresistible presence. The play is experimental in form, based on the idea (helpfully explained in the program) of exploded view: n. An illustration or diagram of a construction that shows its part separately but in positions that indicate their proper relationship to the whole. So, the experience of watching the play is as if you had a lens that zoomed in on a minute detail such as the clasp on a chain and then zooms out to a massive car crash, choreographed by David Neumann, playing in slow motion on repeat. There is writer reading from their new book, two people meeting at a convention, a repeat first time caller on a radio station and a motivational speech that reveals the secret to getting into buildings (which involves posing as a pizza delivery person).
The process of piecing the play together is self imposed (if you want to build the IKEA bookshelf you can, or you can leave it in pieces on the floor). In addition to the program note, the set (designed by Josh Smith with Katherine Brook) prepares you for abstraction. The brick walls are lined with red plush curtains ala Twin Peaks’ “Red Room” and the room is simply ornamented with a hanging light fixture that belongs in a 1950’s kitchen and a potted plant (fake) in the upper right corner. The production is not a windup toy that ends in emotion, but rather a beautifully wrought and well acted experiment that leaves you thinking.
And if you think about it, it’s true: if you are carrying a pizza box you can get into any building.