Last night one of our contributors, Denise, attended the final performance of James Franco’s dance theater directorial debut at Stella Adler Studios in NYC.
The multimedia experience, entitled Collage, “is a mixed-media piece that uses sound and visuals to play with the idea of how different art mediums interact,” producer John Morrow has said of the show.
Check out Denise’s fascinating synopsis and photos from the show below:
The stage is a very small classroom stage at Stella Adler Studio. Everyone is the audience is given a flipcam to record the show. Recording is a VERY big part of this show because in addition to the audience, there are many people on stage with handheld cameras filming the actors and getting right in their faces. This is then projected on all the walls. There is even a TV screen showing the audience getting filmed. Basically everyone in the theater is being recorded and recording others at some point. The only complaint about this is that sometimes it was hard to see the actors because there would be camera people standing right in front of them and constantly following them around on stage.
The actors were dressed in garb from the 50s/60s and the show would be intercut with dance numbers from this era and dramatic readings from plays (I think A Streetcar Named Desire) were featured. Two actors were paired up in each reading and they would act a short and very emotional scene. Each segment wouldn’t last very long so it kept up a fast pace. There was also a small live band in the corner of the stage, although the songs they all danced to were the actual records.
James Franco made a short appearance in the beginning to introduce it (the first photo) and then he left and would do his narration from another room. We didn’t see him at all during the play. His narration consisted of speaking into a voice changing mic so he sounded very distorted and deep. He made comments to the characters during their performances and he felt like an overlord presence during the performances. He also made a lot of odd noises and sounded almost monster like. I do wish Franco would have dressed up a little. Even though we only briefly see him, he is part of the play so it would have been nice to dress in 50s clothes like everyone else.
All in all, it was a good show. I went in expecting it be a little strange, which it was, but I liked it more than I thought I would. It was the music and dancing I enjoyed the most, plus the fast pace was good, I never felt bored or tired. The entire show lasted about an hour. There is definitely nothing like it is on Broadway, or probably even Off Broadway. It was worth the wait and even though last night’s performance was the last one, if it comes back for more performances, I recommend checking it out.