by Matt Zabusky
The Mainline staff approached MAP with the intriguing and terrifying idea of doing a marathon of our current year long episodic theatre series MAP Season One, on May 30th. When I first heard this idea proposed it felt to me like performance suicide, reminiscent of my feelings of hearing about a 48 hour run of Waiting for Godot in the Toronto fringe. Why would someone do that to themselves? But the more and more I thought about it I realized this is going to be the most challenging performance of my life.
instead of watching reality stars on a screen, you will be watching real people live on stage playing both reality star and self, or characters of themselves
This Marathon will consist of seven episodes, (cut down to roughly a half hour each) with a break time for dinner, (pizza provided by yours truly). It’ll be like one of those nights where you curl up with your laptop and before you know it five hours has gone by and an entire season of reality television. Except instead of watching reality stars on a screen, you will be watching real people live on stage playing both reality star and self, or characters of themselves. Can you really perform self authentically on stage? Well, if we make it through alive after five hours of performance, I hope you will start to get an idea of who we are as people, as a company and an understanding of MAP language.
In one night we will kill, pee, faint, get hit by buses, consummate a child, SCREAM, go on the amazing race, go on Taupra’s talk show, throw pitas at each other, get eaten by T-Rex’s, explode, eat, kiss, confess our sins and there’s still more in store that is unknown to even us! I’ll level with you- I am only going to be performing in five of the seven episodes. Iris will be in all seven and Amy in six. In fact the most exciting part of this whole Marathon for me will be getting to watch episode three (Amy and Iris) and the seventh episode, (Iris solo show- the next one this April 6th). I can’t wait to sit back with Amy and watch Iris sprint to the finish line.
“The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything -- gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness -- rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations. To break through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate the theatre,”
The reason I am referencing the above quote by Antonin Artaud, is because I feel like MAP has broken through the conventional language of the theatre and is both confusing and intriguing because of it. We are confessing to the audience, looking the people in the eye, but treating them all as lenses, a theatrical convention perhaps mirroring our constant dealing with surveillance/television/film in the 21st century. MAP makes use of gestures, words, screams, light, darkness, video projections, music, references (from our lives, literature, movies, music, television shows, twitter, plays, Facebook, previous performances etc..). We then take these references and perform them sometimes in an entirely new situation, giving the action another layer. For example, in Episode 6 we took a banal conversation around a dinner table and turned it into a scene of horror, of mistrust and on the cliff of sanity.
After Episode Seven is performed on April 6th, as mentioned before, we have the Marathon on May 30th. We will have every episode documented on film and still have all of our notes, scripts etc… Thus it seems we have the choice to either regurgitate what we have previously done, or to add another layer to the performances. In the Marathon it is entirely possible to project the original moment of Amy talking about bedbugs in a social context, her saying it in rehearsal and again in the performance of Episode 1 in September, while real-Amy performs it live in front of the audience. Five Amy’s could be saying the same text, all from different points in time or different points of view, all potentially creating a different dialogue using the same text.
This remount is especially significant because we get a second chance, we get to learn from our mistakes, something one performance of a piece does not allow. We now get the chance to break through/reinterpret MAP language in order to recreate our previous work, with the finale in mind. It’s exciting because even if you have seen all the episodes this season we will be able to, (unlike television) provide you with not just a re run but a whole new show.