THE BLOG
06/11/2012 02:01 pm ET Updated Aug 11, 2012

The Key To Escape

Escape just opened in New York at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. Escape is about freedom -- freedom from self-limitations, freedom from the limitations that come from the outside. It's about the chains that hold us back.

Emblematic of a person in chains was the great Harry Houdini. What kind of person was he? As a playwright, the most interesting thing about Houdini was that he was someone who understood the secrets of his jail. My play became about exploring our limits in all of their manifestations, physical and psychological. I created the character of Harry Houdini the III, but unlike his grandfather, Harry does not understand the secrets of his jail and is not a successful escape artist like the great one. We watch him roll around the floor in a straitjacket, trying to release himself as his wife Bess reads a newspaper and has tea -- a normal day in the Houdini household. While next door, Gus, an unemployed elevator repairman, lies in wait with a shotgun. He keeps his neighbors and wife in the cross hairs, protecting his piece of the pie. In the third room lives an agoraphobic actress held captive by Daddy, a terrorist on the run.

Three couples occupy three rooms. Imagining the play is to imagine a triptych. Three stages are going on simultaneously. The verbal text of the play takes place in one of three rooms and rotates from room to room throughout the play. The actors in the two adjacent rooms assume still tableaux or silent actions while the main action takes place. The two silent rooms create an expanded visual field for the play and are intended to contribute to the subtext for the play. The challenge in doing this was that designers and director had to create three stages, three spaces, that are always present, always active because the actors never exit. The stage is transparent, where actors live in rooms without visible walls or doors and windows, and yet they still are trapped. What does the key look like? That's my question.

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