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Archive for October 13, 2018

Oct. 13, 2018 — Immersion

Last evening was the first full day of my 30th college reunion.

One of the people who wasn’t going to be able to be there was Diane Paulus, a famous and very prolific Broadway producer who currently has Waitress and Jagged Little Pill in production in New York.

But we did get to experience one of her shows during our reunion: a special performance of The Donkey Show, a re-imagination of the Shakespeare play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all done as an immersive experience in a space made to look like a 1970s-era discotheque.

A lot of what Paulus has done in her career is to retell and reimaging past works and view them in new ways. She’s revived such Broadway classics as Porgy and Bess and Pippin. She has adapted Prometheus Bound, several classic operas, and even Finding Neverland.

Now, the entertainment industry has been criticized in the recent past for recycling and retreading past works. I know that Hollywood is going to be savaged if the current box office champion A Star Is Born wins multiple Academy Awards next spring, given the fact that the film was made in 1937, 1954, 1975, and now 2018.

But last night’s performance of The Donkey Show was very much an original and very avant-garde piece of performance art. The blocking for the individual scenes and vignettes were some of the most complicated you will ever see. Audience members were part of the act at times. Dancers and characters sometimes flew from one part of the theater to the other. Others rollerskated. This play not only knocked down the “fourth wall,” it destroyed it.

You might say I got a good night’s sleep after being immersed in this play.