This article mentions innovative theater companies, projects and festivals we have had our eyes on that have inspired us at Needtheater to head into our new direction in interactive storytelling. Take a look:
Social Media On Stage: Theater Meets Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Tumbler, Soundcloud…
To continue our push to find new ways of telling new stories, we’re asking you for a tax-deductible donation. When you give before midnight on December 31, you will lighten your tax burden for 2012 while lightening our fundraising burden for 2013. It’s a WIN-WIN situation!
In 2012 we partnered with The Smith and Martin Company in producing Stephen Belber’s Tape. Each showʼs ten-person audience was brought into the playʼs real-life seedy motel room and invited to move with and around the actors.
The LA Times praised our “dirty little adventure,” the LA Weekly said it took the concepts of “fully immersive environmental productions” to “their ultimate extreme,” and the LAist said “Tape proves that theater is often at its best when it abandons the trappings of traditional staged theater to physically and mentally engage the audience.” We couldn’t agree more!
This year also saw the continued development of two of our most ambitious and adventurous shows: 2010ʼs The Interview was produced in Chicago as part of Collaboractionʼs Sketchbook, and 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival hit Glint was graciously funded by the Culver City Performing Arts Grant Program for a stint at The Ivy Substation in Culver City. Re-titled G.O.Ne, our deeply moving adaptation of David Foster Wallaceʼs award-winning short story Good Old Neon continued to resonate with all who saw it.
As we head into 2013, we plan to continue to push the company in new directions, with more ideas that highlight theater’s uniquely immersive and elastic qualities, ideas like gps-driven interactive radio plays and cross-platform multimedia storytelling.
While we are grateful and honored to receive this public support, grants only cover part of our costs, which means that we have to rely on you to make up the rest.
When you support Needtheater with your hard-earned dollars, you can rest assured that your money is going directly to what you see and experience. We are a lean organization by design, so your donation will almost certainly go directly to paying artists and programmers and purchasing materials.
Plus youʼll get special access to an invite-only on-demand broadcast of G.O.Ne at The Ivy Substation! And our undying gratitude! And a tax deduction for 2012! You can go to needtheater.org to join our mailing list, check out our podcasts and blogs and make a donation through Paypal.
Thanks for a fantastic 2012, everyone, and here’s to a great 2013.
Dylan Southard & Ian Forester; Co-Artistic Directors, Needtheater
“G.O.Ne,” our adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s “Good Old Neon” opens in eight days! And it closes the next day, which means you only have a couple of chances to see this powerful piece of theater.
Check out our sweet promotional video here
And if you want to buy some tickets, head here
If you pay attention to Needtheater’s various ways of communicating with the world, you’ll know that we recently announced dates for our production of G.O.Ne, an adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s short story “Good Old Neon.” If you’ve really been paying attention, you’ll know that G.O.Ne was produced once before with the title Glint at the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival and that we’ve been laboring for more than a year to bring the show back. There are a number of reasons why it’s taken this long, most of which are uninteresting and concern things like money and time and all the usual factors that delay anything from happening in a timely manner. But one factor that I think is of interest, especially as it concerns Needtheater’s larger evolution as a company, is the search for the right venue. At the beginning of the year, we received a grant from Culver City to produce the show somewhere within the city limits. So we looked at that city’s few, storefront theaters, which proved to be uninspiring, and we looked at some galleries/cafes, which proved to be rife with hassle, and we even flirted with the notion of staging it at the Kirk Douglas Theater until we got a look at the probable cost of doing it there and blood started to pour out of our various orifices. This essentially left us with two options. We could do it for two nights at the Ivy Substation, a beautiful theater smack dab in the middle of Culver City and home to The Actor’s Gang theater company, or we could do a longer run in a conference room at one of Culver City’s many, semi-luxurious hotels. And this is where things get intriguing.
Our latest podcast features me and Ian and Adam Smith, the director of G.O.Ne, debating these two options. I argue in favor of the conference room. My argument is essentially that the content of the play could support staging it like the kind of thing you usually see happen in such a conference room, at a place like the Sheraton or the Marriott. Seminars. Motivational speakers. Conferences. This is important, but in the context of the argument, the more important fact was that staging it in such a place makes it an event. And that fits within our mission. It recontextualizes in its own small way what it means to go out and see a play. It seems adventurous this way and that’s a draw for audiences, particularly the kind we want to attract. Our recent, very successful co-production of Stephen Belber’s Tape, staged inside a dingy motel room, had proven this to be true.
The podcast ends without us making a decision. It actually took us a couple more hours of debate to resolve the matter and well, I lost. G.O.Ne will go up October 23 and 24 at the Ivy. When you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear that the debate between a conference room and a theater came down to a debate between the best interests of the company and the best interests of the play. As I said, the company would best be served by staging it in the conference room. The play however would best be served by doing it in a theater. It’s hard to put into words exactly why this is but I think it has something to do with the intensity of Wallace’s writing, particularly this piece, which describes in the first person the journey its narrator took to his own suicide. Obviously, there is some chilling resonance, given that Wallace himself committed suicide in 2008. But even if he were still alive today, the way in which he dives into his narrator’s psyche to reveal insecurities and self-doubt and confusion that is truly universal and then follows those fears all the way to death is astounding. One of my favorite moments in the story and in the play (and one that Ian absolutely fucking nails in his performance) is when the narrator talks about the battle between one’s inner life and their outer life, between everything inside of them and the small part that they allow others to see and he challenges the audience, asking them directly, “What exactly do you think you are?” Considering the answer to that is gut-wrenching and painful but it’s also beautifully cathartic, so much so that it becomes reassuring. And asking this question is unbelievably brave, the way the story faces down its audience and demands that they find the most basic and essential parts of themselves. That relationship between character and audience, that showdown, must be stripped of context, of geography, of locale. If it isn’t, it would only allow the audience to distance themselves, to escape from the question and the play. And to escape from this play is to lose it forever.
Yes, it was still a semi-bitter pill for me to swallow. I still think the future of theater is in the ways it can literally interact with the world around it. To find those ways requires us to take theater out of its privileged and sanctified spaces, to remove any impediment to that interaction. What I discovered though is that sometimes, the event and the adventure can only be found when you enter into one of these spaces. Sometimes, theater is bigger than the world around it. Sometimes, sanctity is what we need.
Hey, It’s Episode II. Like Attack of the Clones! Let’s hope not. That movie sucked. No, this is Episode II: G.O.Ne and The Search for Space. G.O.Ne is the name of this show we’re about to do (it used to be called Glint and, in fact, we refer to it as Glint in this episode but we’ve since changed the title), an adaptation of the David Foster Wallace short story “Good Old Neon.” The Search for Space is a search that we’ve been on since the beginning of the year, ever since Culver City gave us a grant to do the show somewhere in their fair city. That journey reaches its bloody climax here in this episode, as we debate which venue to do the show in: the Ivy Substation theater or a hotel conference room. The debate evolves into a pretty interesting conversation about where a theater company’s responsibility lies and how much the literal space a play occupies is a part of the theater-going experience.
Way back in 2011, Needtheater produced a one-man show entitled Glint for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Based on David Foster Wallace’s short story “Good Old Neon,” which was first published in the collection Oblivion, the play was adapted and performed by Ian to much acclaim. LAist described his performance as “…truly outstanding…he is precise, provocative, and wonderfully satisfying…Forester reaches out for the curiosity of the audience, singularly piercing every individual in attendance.” Nice!
We are all huge fans of Wallace’s and we’ve been dying to do the show again. Well, our chance has come. We are happy to announce that the show, now titled G.O.Ne, will be performed for two nights only, October 23 & 24, at the historic and beautiful Ivy Substation in downtown Culver City. It will once again star Ian. Adam J. Smith, the show’s original director, will return to direct this production as well.
In G.O.Ne, a man named Neal describes the lifelong battle he waged against his own sense of insincerity and the deep turmoil he faced when he realized he could not stop performing his life rather than truly living it. In brutally ripping open his own psyche, Neal reveals the path that ultimately led him to suicide. Ian truly brings Neal to life, offering audiences a starkly eloquent and intimate look into the character’s most private thoughts, while delivering the same verbal dexterity, probing curiosity and expansive intellect that has made Wallace one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. It’s a deeply moving, exhilarating piece and we are very proud to bring it to you. Special thanks to the Culver City Department of Cultural Affairs and The Actor’s Gang theater company for their help.
Tickets are available at needtheater.brownpapertickets.com.
Welcome to our first podcast! In this, our inaugural edition, we talk about funding for the arts. We had just finished applying for the next round of grants given by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, an exhausting but necessary process that inspired discussion about public vs. private financing, the changing value of arts funding during increasingly cash-strapped times and also of course Ice Capades and the Olympics. Joining us was Heather Thomas, a published poet and Ian’s mother, who brought her years of experience as an artist to the table while also gently reminding us to eat our vegetables.
We’re going to keep bringing these to you, guys because, as anyone who knows us can attest, we love to hear ourselves speak. But also because there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to theater and a lot of great people to talk to.
Needtheater and The Smith & Martin Company’s production of Stephen Belber’s TAPE has been extended through September. Set and staged in a real motel room, TAPE runs Tuesday and Wednesday nights, @ 8 and 10pm at the Los Feliz Motel, 3101 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. It’s directed by Ian and stars needtheater favorites John Pick, J.B. Waterman and Kate Brown. Tickets are selling out real, real fast so head here: http://www.brownpapertickets.
We’ve got new submission guidelines for interested playwrights and theater artists here!
AND COMING SOON…
The glorious return of GLINT, Needtheater’s adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s devastating short story “Good Old Neon.” GLINT was performed to much acclaim at the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival and will return this fall in Culver City. Stay tuned for the details.
Last night, Needtheater had a staff meeting. Josh, Terence and I sat around Ian’s living room while Ian skyped in from Pennsylvania, his disembodied head floating around my laptop like he was Max Headroom.
Here’s what we talked about…
-We just got a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Part of that grant money is supposed to go towards a new Development Director for Needtheater. Basically, it’s a grant to hire someone to go get you more grants. Which we need, ’cause the grant game moves fast. But this is a tricky hire to make. It’s essentially the administrative equivalent of hiring a stage manager. This person needs to be extremely responsible, patient and tolerant, love busy work, and be comfortable with getting absolutely no glory whatsoever. Tricky hire. So we talked about how we were going to find that person and debated at what point we should simply take a drive through the USC campus, cruising for particularly despondent-looking, recent grads.
-We marveled at our rubber stamps. Let me explain. We wanted business cards but we wanted them to be different so we came up with this idea of getting keychain-sized rubber stamps that say www.needtheater.org and our name. We’d carry this on our keychain along with blank business cards (or cards that have Crazy Eyes, our dapper, gentlemanly mascot, imprinted on them) and when someone asked for our card, we’d whip out the stamp and stamp the info on the cards and be super cool. It’s sorta like when they prepare your guacamole table-side.
-Our next big project is the much-anticipated, occasionally-delayed return of GLINT. GLINT is an adaptation of the short story “Good Old Neon” by David Foster Wallace. It’s a one-man show performed by Ian. It’s real good. We did it to much success at the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival and we’ve been plotting our return ever since. Now, we haven’t signed a contract so I can’t make any official announcements but we’re almost definitely going to be performing for two nights only in Culver City in late October. And then we’ll have more dates in early 2013. But the thing we’re wrestling with is that GLINT is actually kinda old-fashioned in that it’s basically just Ian up on stage talking. And it’s moving and exciting and funny and sad but it isn’t new. It isn’t futuristic and technological and interactive and spectacular. That’s our mission right now so how do we make GLINT a part of that mission? We had bandied about an idea about streaming video into people’s phones while Ian performed but that was seeming potentially distracting and, frankly, a little above our paygrade. So we brainstormed a bit. And this is where we start to dramaturg that shit. Start to probe the play’s meaning and its effect, try to envision a world around the play, try to picture what that world would look like and how you could build it, like really build it, try to make an event of it. Mock funerals, potluck dinners and something called a Temporary Autonomous Zone were all discussed.
-We talked about a podcast. Don’t make fun. I’m already agonized with the thought that this is really arrogant of me, this assumption that people will want to hear me talk for half an hour at a time, but then again I write these things and expect people to read them so I guess I’m already there. Anyway, we did one already. There was maybe a bit too much sermonizing and I embarrassingly start talking about Ice Capades at one point but it’s also kinda amusing. So we’re going to do some more and put them up on the website soon.
Then Ian’s computer died and the rest of us sat around talking about that guy who did mushrooms and then went on The Price Is Right and how Terence knows that guy and how crazy that is and then I went home. Good meeting.
WHAT WE DO NOT WANT: Scripts. Sorry. This does not mean we don’t like scripts. We like scripts. We like people who write scripts. We are all for them getting work and getting paid. We’re just not into it right now. So no ten-page samples, no synopses, none of that. Believe us, the blind submission route is a Sisyphean task and we’re only doing our small part to try to save you from it.
Besides, we still want ideas from the theater-devisers.
WHAT WE’RE INTO (WHAT WE WANT):
-Games. We want games. The characters can be playing a game. Or the audience can be playing a game. Or the characters are playing a game with the audience. And we’re not talking metaphorically here. Like “well, isn’t life just one big game.” We’re talking literally. Like Stratego is a game.
-It doesn’t have to be site specific but we want the location of the play itself, the production, the event, to be strongly considered. Like, you have to be thinking not only about the play’s setting but the production’s setting as well. What is the most evocative environment in which to see this story unfold? And what kind of stories lend themselves to that kind of immersion?
-We want to conspire to get everyone up in everyone else’s shit. Audience members interacting physically with performers. No fourth wall.
-Also, an audience that will collectively decide the course of the performance, be it unconsciously or not.
-We want to pair our plays up with films and web series and albums and online games. And the stories we make should span all these platforms. We want stories that start with an album you can download and then go to a web series you can watch before finishing with a live performance. And they are three parts of one whole.
So, I mean maybe you have a script that incorporates some or all of these interests. In which case, you read our mind, yes, absolutely send it our way. I’ll read it now. But hopefully and more likely, it will kindle an idea in you. In which case, email it to us at email@example.com. Better yet, tweet it to us @needtheater and you’ll get bonus points for getting in under 140 characters. We are real down to talk about these ideas, to collaborate, to build something.