SupercloggerEven the idea of this production has made sitting in Los Angeles traffic more bearable. 

Last summer, Joel Kyack and Peter Fuller took advantage of the captive rush-hour audience on LA's 405 and 101 freeways to present pickup-truck puppet dramas (audio broadcast via FM radio).

Kyack’s Superclogger came to mind again this week as I was reading Meiyin Wang’s HowlRound manifesto, “The Theatre of the Future.” The following passage especially resonated with me:

And as water has to always take the shape of its container—theatre will become increasingly about place.

Theaters will have to turn into cultural centers, gathering places for the community. They will continue to open their doors to the outside world and deepen the dialogue between arts, culture, and society, bringing the arts back to the table of civic discourse, leading the conversation in society, instead of having a conversation with ourselves. More theater will have bars. Real bars, not just beer and wine, but actual bars.

Theater buildings will change, they have to. People will create theaters that can respond creatively and organically to the art that goes inside it. More and more—bars, museums, parks, living rooms, roof decks, libraries, basements, galleries, cars, will becomes sites for performances. Theater will be taken to the audience, a way to interrupt their daily perspectives, a way to see a space anew.

For me, this passage is about more than performing theatre in non-traditional venues. It’s about re-locating theatre as a cultural activity, allowing for the possibility of theatre as an intimate, everyday event. Something that transforms us where we stand. (And where we shop. And where we drive.) Something that transforms our everyday spaces with new stories, or expands our imagination about what kind of stories already surround us.

That’s what I like about Superclogger – it highlights the inherent theatricality of the car, the dramas playing out behind the windshield proscenium. It kicks us out of our daily daze with a jolt -- hopefully not the jolt of hitting the car in front of us, but there is that looky-loo thrill of watching something along the highway.

Plays set in cars have been around for a long time, from Thornton Wilder’s Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden to Dan LeFranc’s Sixty Miles from Silver Lake and Quiara Hudes’ 36 Miles. Audience members have piled into cars to see shows at the Humana Festival and LA’s Moving Arts, among others. You could even include something like Caravan Farm Theatre’s winter sleigh ride show.

But what’s intriguing about Superclogger is its accidental, ever-shifting audience, tied to the accidental, ever-shifting community of commuters it targets. In a piece by Neda Ulaby for NPR’s All Things Considered, Kyack said he was interested in "how you navigate, how you make the world that you want around you, and how you compromise with what the world's giving you. And I think that formally, the traffic jam is sort of the perfect metaphor to explore that."

Meiyin Wang imagines artists taking theatre to their audiences, giving people “a way to interrupt their daily perspectives, a way to see a space anew.” Superclogger does just that -- two or three audience members at a time.

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