A couple of weeks ago, set designer Christine Jones asked me if I would be interested in experimenting and collaborating on one of her projects, Theatre For One. Inspired by peepshow booths and confessionals, Christine had the idea of building a unique black box theater for one performer and one audience member. The idea sounded unbelievably fascinating to me and really brought a new way of looking at performance. The closeness of the audience and performer seem like the perfect world for the toy piano. I have often thought that being close to the instrument is the best way to experience it.
Last Thursday, Theatre For One had an Open House at the Voorhees Theater located at City Tech College (Brooklyn.) Getting into the booth for the first time was absolutely thrilling–the toy piano was just small enough to fit into the stage of the booth and it has had theater gear such as house lights, PA, velvet curtains and everything else that we associate with a full-sized theater. I did not exactly know what to expect performing for one person at a time in such an intimate space. Christine described the first time she saw a magician perform a magic trick for her one-on-one and how she felt “an instantaneous crush on the magician who had just pulled my nine of hearts out of his mouth. Experiencing the private version of a normally public act was intoxicating.” I found myself having a similar feeling as the performer towards the one audience member in the booth. I was really drawn to each listener and each performance felt completely unique and different, depending on who was in the booth with me. Unlike the more conventional concert setting, there was always a specific person to play for.
The booth is scheduled to be up in Time Square for 10 days in May 2010 through the NYC Public Arts Fund. I will be one of many artists performing in booths ranging from dancers, poets, musicians, actors to magicians. Please take some time to check out Christine’s site and read up about Theatre For One. It is truly a touching and inspiring artistic project!
Pictures by John Huntington. This is a picture of looking into the booth through one of the vents.