Save the dates June 24th through the 29th for
RealTime Interventions‘s upcoming theatrical event The Birth of Paper, part of RealTime’s Post Theatrical festival of plays-by-mail. I wanted to write to you both personally because of your respective work with international communities; I thought you may have connections that would appreciate this particular production, especially it’s connection with Beirut. With all the live events starting up for the summer, we don’t want this extraordinary event to get overlooked.
This show is note-worthy for a couple of reasons:
- It’s the very last offering of Post Theatrical which has had a heckuva run (four sold out shows, two second runs of popular shows, hundreds of artists employed, nods from the New York Times, New Yorker, and Vulture);
- It’s a live performance from Beirut, Lebanon, where residents are facing economic freefall, government absence and a terrifying everyday existence (some days we rehearse without power using a personal generator; some days our actor has protests happening outside her window due to the impossible costs of food.) As our collaborator Milia Ayache says, in some ways the show is a chronicle of the downfall of a country and the rising needs of its people— for connection, for attention, for comfort. These are things we strive to provide in the course of the show.
- The show began as a simple adaptation of a play and has transformed into a multi-armed engine of connection between our city and Beirut. It is supported by a team of over forty makers (who’ve made items that have been sent to Beirutis to be opened live), letter-writers, and volunteers. Some of these folks appear in the show itself. And the content is about little-known connections that exist between Pittsburgh and Lebanon; we think audiences on both sides will be surprised.
- Although it occurs on Zoom, it’s not exactly a “Zoom play”. It’s a live, interactive, distance-based experience occurring between Pittsburgh and Beirut which would have required distance technology regardless of Covid restrictions. It’s not about social distance, it’s about distance— between writer and audience and performer, between “us” and “them”– and finding a way to care about people you cannot meet or even see, people in need on the other side of the world. With the element of gift-giving at its center, we are calling this piece “humanitarian theater.”
The show has been described as “a transcontinental transference of goods and goodwill.” It stars Lebanese performer Milia Ayache (last seen in Pittsburgh in RealTime’s ANGELMAKERS: Songs for Female Serial Killers) and is devised by RealTime, written by Molly Rice, and directed by me, Rusty Thelin.
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