Thursday, October 6, 2011

Current Investigative Theater: BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND by The Artful Conspirators

Hi, I’m EllaRose Chary, and I’ll be with The Civilians this year as the Literary Associate. One of my jobs is going out and seeing shows put on by other companies that are in the same genre as what we’re doing. It’s always exciting for us here at The Civilians to see the ways that other groups find to make theater with an investigative approach. When I see things of note, I’ll be reporting back here on the blog, so stay tuned for future updates! 

This past weekend I got the chance to see BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND: THEATRICAL STORIES FROM GREENWOOD CEMETERY. This site-specific piece was created by the Artful Conspirators, a Brooklyn-based theatrical collective, from a mixture of sources including historical events, community interviews, and the rules and regulations from the cemetery itself. BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND weaves fictional and factual material together to bring audiences a new perspective on Brooklyn’s historic Greenwood Cemetery.One of the most exciting elements of the piece was not only learning about the people who are buried in the cemetery, but also discovering events that occurred on the grounds. Who would have guessed that a cemetery is a common place for people to commit suicide?

A wonderful component of the show was the fact that I had to walk through the cemetery at night to get to and from the chapel where the show was being performed. The spookiness of wandering past mausoleums in the moonlight on an October night definitely contributed to the impact of the information I received during the play. One of my favorite things about investigative theater is the way that research and interviews help you contextualize the world in a way you weren’t previously. This contextualizing is one of the biggest successes of BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND. Audience members will never look at Greenwood Cemetery the same.

Though the show’s no longer running, you can still check it out online at the Artful Conspirators BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND website

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