Preview: Dreams of Escape at Eddie Goes to Poetry City on Stage at Catastrophic Theatre
There’s something about avant-garde playwright Richard Foreman’s work that actor/director/designer Greg Dean finds deeply moving and funny.
So he thought it was time for Catastrophic Theatre (previously Infernal Bridegroom) to once again present Eddie Goes to Poetry City and let him run with it (” I’m the only one who keeps pitching his plays”). And they did.
The story’s theme is one that many people can relate to: Eddie wishes to escape the life he has. His destination of choice is a little more singular: Poetry City. As usual — in what is a very unusual telling — he finds that all is not paradise once he arrives with his personal baggage in tow.
“A thread that runs through all of his scripts is a yearning for transcendence, grace a higher plain of thought, a spiritual quest and he acknowledges that it’s doomed from the start. You’re not going to get there. Not only is it not what you thought it was, you’re not even going to get it.”
Foreman often incorporates his experiences from when his earlier years, Dean said.
“He will speak in metaphysical terms. When he was younger he hung around with a lot of experimental artists in New York and many of them were into the occult or alchemy and I think this mystic traditions provided him with a useful metaphor so he will still talk about it. But definitely a rational person, not really believing in supernatural things but it is a metaphor that he likes to use whether it’s a kabala or alchemy or any number of mystic traditions.”
Dean is directing this one-act, 75-minute play (and helming the design) and one of his challenges is providing guidance to his actors (Gabriel Regojo, Noel Bowers, Karina Pal-Montaño Bowers and Jenna Morris.) “I have the hardest time talking about it, but I’m not in bad company. I watched a documentary that was made in the mid-, late ’90s . Somebody just filmed a rehearsal and apparently Foreman himself has a hard time trying to [explain his work] to the actors.”
Directing any play and not just Foreman’s, Dean said, “Most of my decisions feel like they are coming from the unconscious or intuition. The fact is I’ve prepared a lot. I do a big stint of research on anything I’m working on. I really have to say to the cast ‘Trust me, trust me. It’s working.'”
In further explaining what attracts him about Foreman’s writing, Dean said: “I would read the plays and be really really into them and not understand why. For years I only had access to his writings whether plays, manifestos, essays and I hadn’t seen any of his work and when I finally did get to see some — a video tape — he was doing the kind of stuff I was interested in but he started doing it the year that I was born.”
The Catastrophic Theatre audience has supported the Foreman plays Dean has directed through the years, he said. In the case of Eddie Goes to Poetry City, “You don’t really end up with the standard linear narrative. It’s a whole lot of beginning again. Starting over, interruption, frustration. The people on stage are certainly recognizable types. But it doesn’t really obey any of the rules that normally go into making good theater.
“I keep telling the actors ‘This is your chance to do everything you’re not allowed to do, everything they’ve rung out of you in drama school. Indicate, over-emote, telegraph your intent. Play stereotypes.’ It feels enough like a story that people have had a good time in the past.”
In terms of where the story is set, Dean said he’s gone back in time. “We are nodding to a previous periods like offices of the ’40s, ’30s just because it’s a period I like the look of. They do refer to telethons His stuff I always kind of see in an earlier era.”
Dean said this play will appeal to anyone “:with a decent sense of humor.” Strangely enough, he said, when Foreman stages his own plays he often cuts out “all the wonderful stuff that the actors love.” But Dean promises “I just can”t resist keeping all the gags.”
Performances are scheduled for February 10 through March 4 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Monday February 27 at MATCH, 3400 Main. For more information, call 713-521-4533 or visit $35 suggested.