Wednesday, October 14, 2009

COItc's 2010 season, part 3 of 3

The final piece of our upcoming projects is one that is very close to my heart: our upcoming podcast series.

We've already begun rehearsals and hopefully will start recording soon. Here's the basic idea: we'll be pairing up our performers with short fiction authors to create recorded performances of their work.

The marriage of drama and recorded audio is so old it's new again. And there are people who are tackling this from all sides: making the literary dramatic, recording plays, and whatever the hell kind of performance art this is.

I guess the goal of our series will be the bridge the gap between these forms. I don't think we'll necessarily do it better (I cut my teeth on Prairie Home Companion and Selected Shorts on public radio; their performers are my gods), but I think we can do it differently. We're not authors who believe in the supremacy of language, nor are we performers who believe that the voice is all. The most important thing is the verb, storytelling.

We're a theater company; our work lies in telling stories, and usually these stories begin in script form -- but after weeks (months, years) of rehearsal, the text is gone, the technique is gone, and all you have left is a performer and an audience. All the performer has at their disposal is the ability to tell a tale, and to try to convince that audience to listen. Not necessarily to believe, or to participate, or to take action. Simply to hear.

The act of storytelling is one of the most compelling and intimate acts of performance, because it's performance in its purest form, and as a performer it's a terribly naked, revealing thing -- to be stripped of technology's toys, or the safety of theatrical conventions.

In reciting a written story, a performer must fall back on their most basic ability, to convey a series of actions with their voice, and keep an audience engaged.

As a producer it's been incredibly liberating preparing these scripts, because it means letting go of the thousand and one distractions that a stage play generates -- all the nattering details of programs, tickets, rentals, and fees. All of your concerns and efforts are focused on answering a single question: Is it interesting or not?

I guess you'll be letting us know.

[If you know any authors who would like to have their work read, submit it to]

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