Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Altered Landscapes of the Mind

Once upon a time -- and not so very long -- people used to joke about gay men who liked to torture straight couples by breaking into their homes and rearranging the furniture. But with all the technology we now have at our disposal (not to mention the mind-altering substances that have become so easily obtainable) why would anyone limit himself to rearranging furniture? Why not rearrange the world in which we live?
  • Do you hate gravity?  Get rid of it.
  • Do blue skies creep you out? A simple tweak with a graphics program can change them to a blazing orange hue.
  • Do you worry that a certain dress makes you look fat? Change the world into a chubby chaser's paradise in which fit and skinny people are to be pitied rather than admired.
Two wonderfully inventive animated shorts that will be shown at the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival demonstrate amazing ways to rethink the world as we know it. Each is brief, brilliantly conceived, and magnificently executed.

In Get With The Program Jennifer Drummond Deutrom has created a vision of the future in which:
"Complacent inhabitants devise ways to adapt to the constant demands of the techno dystopia they have created. High-tech addiction, constant surveillance, data harvesting, body transformation, resource depletion, and mindless entertainment are just part of the daily grind for these one-eyed apathetic creatures."

Although Deutrom's film is not yet available on YouTube, you can watch a brief trailer here. However, in the 2-1/2 minutes it takes to watch Patrick Jean's Pixels, you can see the world change before your very eyes:

* * * * * * * * *
Radical changes in the world as we know it lie at the heart of J.C. Lee's trilogy. The second installment, entitled Into The Clear Blue Sky, recently received its world premiere from Sleepwalkers Theatre. Most of the play takes place in post-apocalyptic New Jersey in a world whose glaciers have melted and whose beliefs have been turned upside down. The main characters are:
  • Mika (Dina Percia), an aggressive, fearless young woman who has obviously been influenced by the legendary Xena, Warrior Princess. Unafraid of cannibalistic Canadians, mutant dogs, and giant seahorses, Mika has set out on a quest to find her father, a scientist who built himself a silver rocket in which he blasted off from earth and headed for the moon.
  • Kale (Eric Kerr) is Mika's older brother who, despite her vigorous rejections, still loves her. Kale is determined to follow Mika to the ends of the earth, if necessary, and bring her home.
  • Margaret (Pamela Smith), Kale and Mika's mother. A woman who knows how to administer tough love when it is needed, Margaret has struggled to cope with empty nest syndrome after being left behind by her husband and two grown children.
  • The Husband/Scientist (Christopher Nelson), a father-mentor figure who, after Mika arrives on the moon, offers her a solution that might rid her of the blackness of her hands.
  • Cody (Adrian Anchondo), the impractical love-smitten boy next door who has always worshipped Kale and would do anything to be a part of his life. A confused combination of a frustrated poet, an infatuated young gay man who was once teased for looking like a transgender version of Chita Rivera, and a wannabe warrior who cannot swim, Cody is a mass of emotional contradictions boiling over with unrequited love.

Adrian Achondo as Cody (Photo by: Mercedes Dorame)

As directed by Ben Randle, Into The Clear Blue Sky benefits from the powerful sound design by Colin Trevor and Christian Mejia's lighting design (it's amazing what you can do with three flashlights). What shines above all is the quality of Lee's writing, which can quickly jump from being desperately poetic to delivering hilarious one-liners and a stunning transformation that captures the essence of theatrical magic.

Performances of Into The Clear Blue Sky continue at the Phoenix Theatre through April 30 (you can order tickets here). The final installment in Lee's trilogy, The Nature Line, runs from August 4-27.


Mercedes said...

Adrian Achondo as Cody (Photo by: Claire Rice) Should be © Mercedes Dorame instead. Thanks.

KevinFletcherTweedy said...

"a transgender version of Chita Rivera"? I thought she already WAS that!? [grins and alohas!] -- Kevin Fletcher Tweedy / Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii