Monday, September 06, 2004

Carlotta's Wing Ding

Grandma Funny
Bumbershoot, Seattle, WA

It is a nice change of pace to sit down in a padded chair for a show. Although less drama is witnessed when you are forced to look at the backs of people's heads, for some reason the proximity of theatre chairs get you all chummy with your neighbors. Case in point was the woman to my right, who had with her a tall stick-like thing that she had to prop exactly between her eyeballs so that she could see the stage. I asked her what it was, and she said it was a sort of telescoping wind-sock, but less useful. It was for her son, and it had gay-pride colors and ribbons. She said that since she didn't do drugs anymore she liked things that simulated the drug experience. This is what I'm saying.

Carlotta's Wing Ding attracts a pretty wide range of people. Some old and conservative, some young and looking exactly like cast members which confused me a couple of times. The older ladies to my left asked me several times "what did she say??" during the pre-show when some of the characters were mumbling about. You know when a line an actor said was NOT part of the show and not really important at all, but you don't want to say to to the person next to you "it wasn't important" because that would be rude, but at the same time you realize that putting the effort into explaining it to them would actually be greater than the effort the actor expended to say the quip in the first place, and you are bummed out by your own obligation? Ya. So I explained it anyway, and the ladies thought it was great. So sometimes you get are rewarded for your efforts.

When Carlotta came out (she is played by the brilliant Troy Mink), Wind Sock Lady told me about her own grandmother, who she believe feigned a hearing impairment so that she could turn around and scold people for shouting. WSL said that her grandmother also crocheted blankets like the one on the stage. It made me wonder what our generation will do fifty years from now that will seem charmingly dated to young people. Some will knit because knitting is back, but what about others? "Oh, grandma is so cute with her mixed CDs." "That kooky grandad is on E again!" Who knows.

Part of Carlotta's show is to bring up guest musicians and writers and whatnot. This regular guy named Todd Davis came up to read a poem. Now this is a funny show in general, and I think people are in the mindset of finding everything pre-funny no matter what. So it was a bit weird that Todd's poem started out kind of serious. But it was even weirder when people laughed all the way through - like they were straining to find ANYTHING that could be considered funny so they could audibly expel their comedic expectations.

The poem was about books and authors, and so another dynamic evolved: overt acknowledgement gestures. OAG. Maybe there's a better word for this. Anyway, when Todd talked about Bukowski and Ginsberg and Poe and Dickinson and created interesting scenarios involving all of them together, some people in the audience wanted to subtly let other people in the audience know that they KNEW who these authors were, that they were FAMILIAR with their work, and therefore they found the poem more POIGNANT than others. Some nodded really big during certain parts, and others laughed too loud at parts that weren't really funny. It's okay - we've all done this. It's just interesting to watch it happen in a group.

The show involved audience participation which you know I love. I also love when people weave self-promotion and marketing into their shows. Carlotta made us repeat a couple of times when the next run of her show starts. October 29. Northwest Actors Studio. Marketing works.

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