The Wider Frame: Dog Act

Saturday, December 18, 2010 Leave a Comment

(What is The Wider Frame?)

It may seem that a post-apocalyptic vaudeville like Dog Act may not have a whole lot of real world resonance. But for a play of such wild imagining and comic invention, the painful and beautiful stuff of the real world runs through it.

There are a number of ways we'll be looking to frame the action of the play in a wider context, including blog posts and pre/post show speakers and conversations. Here is a list of some of the interesting possibilities - if this sparks an idea for a pre-show event, post-show speaker, or blog feature, please email me at gus at fluxtheatre dot org, or make a note in the comments.

Potential frames:
Recycling: In the post-apocalyptic world of Dog Act, everything that remains is sacred, because everything must be used for survival. The scavenger tribes roaming the wilderness treat "reduce, reuse, recycle" as a sacred saying.

Vaudeville: More than just the detritus of the pre-apocalypse is recycled; stories and ways of telling them are also repurposed. Liz's fascinating scramble of pop culture, biblical texts and more is filtered through a vaudevillian way of story-telling; and it would be exciting to have current vaudevillian lovers talk about (and share) their work.

Invented Instruments: Dog Act is a play with music, so how do you make music when most instruments have been reused as weapons or firewood? We're hoping to create some intruments from found and discarded materials, and would love to feature the work of artisans already making music this way.

Weather Troubles: The world of Dog Act has a deeply troubled ecology, with earthquakes and momentary loss of gravity amongst its ailments. But the rapidly shifting seasons - reminiscent of Midsummer - are the greatest challenge, with both winter and summer possible in a single day. With global warming making our planet's weather patterns increasingly unstable, Dog Act could serves as a playful way to talk about this serious issue.

Guilt and Trauma: Despite being a comedy, Dog Act wrestles with how we process guilt and trauma. How do we recover our sense of self from our worst mistakes? It would be fascinating to talk to psychologists who deal with these questions, or host a story circle for our community to share our own difficult stories.

Communal Music: One of my favorite recent events was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's Ode to Joy event, where they taught an audience of uke players to play Beethoven's tune, and then all played it together in performance (1,008 ukes!) Given that the banjo may anchor the found instruments we create, could we teach one of the songs in the play to an audience full of banjo players for the greatest curtain call jam session ever?

Apocalypse: We're always wondering about how the world might end, and what might go on after it does - it would be a great pre-show discussion to look at the different ways we might go, and then enter into the joy and ache of surviving that is Dog Act.

Scavenging: The aforementioned scavenger tribes are more than just scary, funny foils; they represent a real resilience and cleverness, and it would interesting to look at contemporary scavenger movements like dumpster diving to learn a different approach to our cycle of waste.

Tribalism: And speaking of those tribes, examining the past and present social structure of tribes would be a great frame on the vauder and scavenger tribes of Dog Act.

So let us know if any of these frames inspire any ideas, and we'll be following up with more on these frames in later posts!