Sometimes I see shows where, even after reading the SummerWorks 2019 program, I have no real idea what to expect– and they turn out to be among the ones that I love the most. Footnote Number 12 from Theatre Replacement / Spreafico Eckly certainly falls into this category. In the program it says “This monologue for two people asks you to observe a creature — a creature whose voice is being repeatedly modulated through digital means.” A creature? A monologue for two people? A digitally modulated voice? Could it possibly come together into something coherent, something wonderful? Yes!
The show was conceived, designed and written by by James Long and Andrea Spreafico. It was performed by Long and directed by Spreafico.
Philipp von Hase’s set, as we arrived, was plain. At the back of the stage there was a table with two three-legged stools behind it There was another three-legged stool in front and to the left of it. At the front of the stage there was a small table with a laptop and a sound board and a chair where Nancy Tam, who was responsible for the sound design, did the live modulation.
Long comes onstage slowly, looking exactly the way he does in the photo above. He starts telling the audience what to expect from the performance. The first thing he says is that “…it would be funny, but not in a humorous way, so don’t laugh; it would more in a mystical way.” The audience politely doesn’t laugh. Sounding a bit bemused he goes though a list of things the performance will be, but not in the expected way. By the third thing, the audience is laughing. We can’t help it.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a comedy, it isn’t. It’s thought-provoking and has some funny moments.
Long sits behind the table and starts reading from an essay by Wallace, Federer as Religious Experience, that first appeared in the New York Times on August 20, 2006. But it’s not his bemused voice, it’s a woman’s voice. As he finishes each page he carefully crumples it up and places it deliberately on the table in front of him.
After a couple of pages he stands up and once again has his male voice as he talks about the use of a word that bothers him.
When he goes back to the table he sits on the other stool and he has a different voice, a third voice. Then he stands up again and talks about a word or phrase in what he just read. There’s some audience group participation throughout to keep us on our toes. We read silently, read aloud together, sing, and do a call and response (not very well).
Although the program says there are two monologues I would say there are four; two performed at the table and two performed standing up. They all deal with words, with what we could say in 2006 but wouldn’t say now. Things that we, or at least Wallace, could get away with. And with why 2006 was the last year that was possible.
I loved Footnote Number Twelve. It’s different than the theatre I usually see and I’m so glad I saw it. I’m going to tell everyone I know to go and see it. You should go too.
This review is a snapshot of the first performance of a work-in-progress. The production is one of several pieces at the festival presented as part of the SummerWorks Lab programming introduced in 2018. The participants in SW Lab are still in the development process and will continue to evolve throughout the festival.
Sunday August 11th 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm
Tuesday August 13th 5:00 pm – 6:15 pm
Friday August 16th 8:00 pm – 9:15 pm