Plays with Films brings together texts of the final three productions of Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery: Zomboid! (2006), Wake Up Mr. Sleepy! Your Unconscious Mind is Dead! (2007), and Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland (2008). In these three exhilarating & challenging works, Foreman turns to a meditation on the mechanical & digital reproductions of screen images within the discipline of theater, and thereby recalibrates & expands the potential relationship we can have with the live art of theater. Extending the model of theater as a “reverberating machine,” Foreman’s use of film in these plays is intimately integrated into the complex network of impulse generators, creating an unprecedented experience of multi-dimensional scriptural space, a new kind of total theater that effectively recharges & redirects the issues of consciousness he has been exploring with indefatigable intensity since the establishment of his theater in 1968.
The bodied reality of theatrical experience, and the recognition of unconsciousness within that experience, becomes more fraught with peril in today’s screened world.
These plays, originally conceived as his final theater works (though he did change his mind), engage in ways that continue his ambition to upend habitual thinking and may prove transformative for the individual’s ability to interpret and understand the threats of deadening conformity and loss of identity through the new digital culture.
Employing an innovative typographical presentation, Plays with Films demonstrates how America’s most daring theater artist alchemizes reproducible and non-reproducible reality into a unique contemplation of the project of self-construction in the 21st century.
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