Tribune-Review – The trio of shows planned for Quantum Theatre’s 24th season offers new ways to experience theater, stand-up comedy and installation art.
Two of the events – “Tamara” and “All the Names” — are so multi-faceted, Quantum artistic director Karla Boos expects many will be intrigued enough to return for a second look. The third, “Brahman/I” is a play masquerading as an unusual stand-up comedy routine.
The season begins with “Tamara,” Aug. 5 to Sept. 14, an immersive dramatic experience that has audience members following 10 actors performing simultaneous scenes in different locations inside Rodef Shalom Congregation at 4905 Fifth Ave., Oakland.
“Tamara” is set in 1927 in a great country house in northern Italy, where Mussolini and his Fascist henchmen keep Gabriele D’Annunzio confined, but free to party with aristocrats and artists.
After being greeted with a glass of champagne and being introduced to D’Annunzio’s guests and staff, each audience member becomes an unseen observer, free to follow any one of the characters through many rooms and scenes. At the conclusion of each scene, an audience member can continue on with that character or detour to follow another.
The show itself runs two hours. But in the middle of the performance, the audience is served a dinner.
Boos and director John Shepard saw “Tamara” when it was performed in Hollywood in the 1980s. Boos says it influenced her decision to create site-specific theater.
Nontraditional theater experiences such as this are becoming increasingly popular with younger and more sophisticated theatergoers who want more control over their experience and are less willing to sit still for long, Boos says.
“This puts the audience in the driver’s seat a lot,” Boos says. “I want people to disappear into the scene.”
No matter whom you follow, you will see a complete — but different — play, says Boos “This is a linear story and the audience comes together at key moments for the audience to hear essential material.”
She expects many will want to return to follow the storyline through a different character. To encourage that, each subscriber will have two visits to “Tamara” built into their subscription package.
“Braham/I,” subtitled “a one-hijra stand-up comedy show,” will run Jan. 29 to Feb. 22. Hijra is the Hindi word for a person who is intersexual or possesses attributes of both genders.
Playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil is an actress and director of Indian and Bulgarian descent, who grew up in Sweden and lives in Minneapolis. She uses “hijra” as a metaphor for the character, who deals with an eccentric mother with an intermingled understanding of England and India’s colonial past, boys’ reactions to him/herself during adolescence and a groovy aunt who seems to understand identity issues.
“It’s beautiful, hilarious,” Boos says. “Everyone will love it. It’s so quirky, accessible and fantastic.”
The season closes with the world premiere of “All the Names,” April 10 to May 3 at a location yet to be determined. The piece is a collaboration between Boos and Barbara Luderowski, the founder, president and co-director of The Mattress Factory, in conjunction with sound designer Sarah Pickett, set designer Narelle Sissons and video designer Joseph Seamans.
“All the Names” is based on Joe Saramago’s Nobel Prize-winning book about a civil servant in the central registry of an unknown city who becomes obsessed with finding a woman who has evaded the bureaucracy’s Kafka-esque categorization.
“It’s magnificent writing in terms of making the reader go on this journey (to its) mind-blowing conclusion about life, why we read and why we go to the theater,” Boos says.
Boos had been looking for a suitable collaborative project since Luderowski suggested they work together some 18 months ago. “All the Names” will combine a theater experience with Luderowski’s interests in architecture, sculpture and assemblage to create a work that functions as an art installation and a play.
“We will continue to let the audience experience be different,” Boos says…