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Sunday, May 13, 2012

First-Person: Christian Cagigal on Now and at the Hour

When the Art Wants to Be Something Else...
by Christian Cagigal
I was never supposed to make this show. As a teenager, I turned to magic, acting and theatre to escape these memories, not to delve into them further. Although the Art I was about to make had something different in mind. In 2008, EXIT Theatre in San Francisco (where I am an Artist in Residence) and I agreed that I would make a new hour long show we could submit to the new FRIGID Festival in New York City for the Winter of 2009. This was a huge challenge, for my shows of dark stories, strange antiques that fill a theatre, and experiences where the audience becomes the center of the show had always been nearly two hour epics. Now, I had to cram my style into an hour, and worse, into one carry-on case.
“Tell us more about your Dad!”

Weeks before opening in N.Y. and the show was nothing more than disparate pieces with no through line. However, there was a small segment about my father who is a Vietnam vet with PTSD and a cigar box full of some of his personal items; workshop audiences kept demanding the same thing, “Tell us more about your Dad!” Telling you more was not something I ever planned on doing...ever. I didn’t know what to do. The show was not ready for N.Y. and I didn’t know how to fix it. I was not going to tell you more about my Dad. I was not. No...
Eight hours before I had to be on a plane to N.Y. I started rewriting the entire show. I rewrote on the plane. I rewrote in the hotel. My first few days in the Big Apple and I didn’t see anything! I just rewrote, cut out magic routines, wrote brand new ones and shipped some antiques back home because I didn’t need them anymore. At my one and only dress rehearsal I still had no ending. 
On February 25th, 2009 “Now and at the Hour” - a solo play with magic about what it was like to be a child with a father with PTSD opened, never having been done (or wanting it to be done) before. That first show was one of the hardest nights of my life. But, it’s led to one of the most well received shows in my life. So much so we’re making a documentary film of it, hopefully due out by the end of this year. That’s the show I want to share with you while I am here...

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