10 Stories: A Humble Offering to the Manhattan Skyline
this weird, wild city of ours, filled with fittingly strange
and creative characters, at any given moment there are scores
of ideas floating around: fashion shows with 300 pound models
wearing paper bags; a symphony comprised of cell phones;
performance art involving every human secretion possible;
and so on. Most of these ideas remain as they are - ideas
- and of those that actually take flight, generally they
fall flat, being too conceptual or ill-conceived to produce
anything of value, in essence mere masturbation. Sometimes,
however, an idea is born, assembled and executed that actually
works, that has substance and soul. And when this happens,
it makes up for all the other shit out there, and completely
validates my (and everyone else's) choosing to live here.
"10 Stories: A Humble Offering to the Manhattan Skyline,"
presented by 'SCAPE (Skyline Cooperative Arts Performance
Endeavor) is one such idea.
Originally conceived by Molly Townsend, the play brought
together a wide variety of writers, actors, directors and
producers, many of whom had little to no experience in the
theater world. The only thing linking them was talent, ambition
and a reverence for the beautiful buildings of New York
city. Additionally, while I don't know this for certain,
I imagine many of them are "outsiders," as, naturally,
the Manhattan skyline is best viewed from another borough.
And being on the outside provides a perspective that is
not only unique, but one which all of us can relate to.
After all, who can afford to live in Manhattan anymore?
And of those who can, how many of them were actually born
and raised there? All of us, in some sense, are from somewhere
else, on the outside looking in, and the artists involved
in this project successfully bring this perspective to light.
Performed in a waterfront park in DUMBO, the setting was
perfect for the various stories, which all took place on
a rooftop. The impressive skyline in the background, coupled
with the open surroundings, provided a unique and effective
atmosphere. Unfortunately, these same conditions were also
the play's greatest weakness. On the night I attended it
was raining, and outdoor theater only works when the actors
properly project. Many of those in the production failed
to do so, and in at least half of the stories I missed major
parts of the dialogue.
Of these stories, most fell into the average to above-average
category, with a few falling below and a few rising above.
A particular favorite was Bruce Mason's "Letting Go,"
about a grandfather dosing his grandson with LSD on his
birthday. Directed by Esther Bell and starring David Dixon
and Fredrick Gunsch, it came off as comical and yet emotionally
resonant, with a slight "Harold and Maude" feel
(which was accentuated by the use of the Cat Stevens' song:
"If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out"). Other standouts
included Jardine Libaire's "Woodcut of Blue Swans"
(directed by Joshua Dickens and starrng Jenny Penny Curry,
Heather Peroni and Ryan Shogren), about two chatty, catty
women at a wedding, and Jonathan Ames' autobiographical
rant about his experiences as a transvestite.
"10 Stories" is slated to return next year, with
a whole host of new talent, and I for one look forward to
seeing it. Good ideas in this city are few and far between,
and when they occasionally surface, we need to get behind
them. Otherwise, prepare for another season of runway fatties
and shit-caked art stars.
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