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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blog: MAP Project, Part IX

Part IX
by Rio Mitchell (director)

Jake, Amy and Iris are aspiring actors and good friends. Over the past three years, their lives have been recorded on behalf of the MAP Project. Since September 2011, each month Jake, Amy and Iris have been bringing their stories and interactions to the stage.
As the group’s director and the editor of MAP Project’s video projections, I have the very distinct pleasure to be the keeper of some 600+ hours of video footage of Jake, Amy and Iris; hours and hours of hanging out with friends, and talking candidly to the camera about their experiences and thoughts. Every Monday I cull the weekly footage searching for storylines for the next episode, and as I sit in my dark editing studio watching and re-watching these three individual’s faces, I fall in love with them more and more. There is a spectacular intimacy to the process, and I have come to believe that it lies in the reciprocal generosity of watching, and giving oneself to be watched.
Their compassion for the human condition unites all of us

‘Watching and being watched’ pretty much sums up my delight in a great theatre-going experience. For me, the story is secondary. I pay entrance for the rare gift of being allowed to sink into a seat, and stare unabashed at a couple of extraordinary people for a whole hour or two- made extraordinary by their very willingness to give, and give honestly. In a world where I may sometimes learn more about someone through their Facebook profile than they are willing to give me face-to-face, I find this magnanimity spectacular. The fact that they are playing a character, or ‘performing’, hardly shrouds this effect if they are able to reach that place where all great performers play; in truth and in honesty. Their compassion for the human condition unites all of us, reminds us, the audience who are witnessing together in the dark, that we are not all that far away from one another, and might even make the effort to understand one another by ‘giving’ some, ourselves.
In working on MAP’s Season One Finale, we have tried to capture, amplify and present this simple and beautiful sensation of watching another person. Jake, Amy and Iris play themselves, (or rather, their ‘past selves’, using text from footage from weeks or months past,) as well as reality-TV inspired ‘alters’, whose increasingly bizarre storyline diverts from their own life struggles and successes. By layering multiple stories, characters, live bodies and recorded footage, we enable ourselves to ‘disassemble’ these parts on stage, peeling away the layers of façade, rehearsed text and past-tense, to present a real-time person, who exists outside of the circumstances of the show. A person at a moment of impulsive presence, who may take in the audience as the audience takes in them. 
it is also a story about ending’s inverse- three real people’s lives that will continue on

Finale is a show about endings. The ending of a season of intense work; Saying goodbye to one of our performers, Amy Kitz; the conclusion of the reality-TV world alter-characters; Jake, Iris and Amy struggling towards their goals, on a road to ‘who they want to be’. But it is also a story about ending’s inverse- three real people’s lives that will continue on, void of any real moment of catharsis or understanding of a tragic flaw. MAP ends Season One by showing that which can never end ‘til death do us part- a person’s presence, and our overwhelming need to watch and be watched, to know and be known. To interact, and we hope, to connect.
MAP Project presents Finale, which marks the end to MAP Season One. Finale is playing at Mainline Theatre on June 1st and 2nd, at 9pm and 11pm.
Catch MAP Marathon, a showcase of the past seven episodes on May 30th at the Mainline Theatre from 6pm to midnight. Dinner will be included. Come for the entire event, or join in for specific episodes.

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