Everyone knows that renting space for a theater production can be daunting so what’s to be done if you can’t afford the rent at the BCA or the Cambridge Y or the Factory? For a while, cabaret was alive and well after hours, taking advantage of someone else’s run. The shows would begin half an hour after the end of the show slotted in to the space. Even that cost something because staff and security had to stay longer. That’s all but disappeared.
What if you performed in a park in the daytime? You wouldn’t need lights and sets could be minimal. It’s already happening in the Lynn Woods (thirty minutes or so from Boston). I saw a lovely production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING which moved from clearing to bandstand to water’s edge for each scene. The advantage of the moveable Shakespeare is that you pay a lot more attention to the verse. Your brain and your feet are engaged and you anticipate each new locale. You can’t just sit back and let the iambic pentameter wash over you (or lull you to sleep). You have a stake in the performance and a choice of where to stand, which changes every ten minutes or so.
A few years back I saw a “laundramatic” play performed (with permission of the premises) in an actual laundry and a cafe comedy about a pick up artist, in a little coffee house in Brighton where customers had no idea what was going on around them. The element of surprise and the audacity of the performance made it delightful.
What if you performed in people’s houses? Last year Theatre on Fire presented the powerful VINCENT RIVER (which takes place in a kitchen) in kitchens all over Boston. This year they’re presenting Harold Pinter’s nasty little indictment of tyranny called PARTY TIME in living rooms where the audience members are guests at the party.
Pinter drives home the price of a “perfect” society without the “mess” of poverty or dissent by letting us witness a half dozen or so well heeled partygoers sipping their expensive wine even as the police are rounding up suspects outside. Only one of them fears for a family member who has disappeared. The rest happily sign on to the repressive regime because they think it will make them safe. Director Darren Evans and company play up the sardonic, achieving a nifty resonance with our government suspending constitutional rights in the name of homeland security. Bravo, Fire ensemble!