Today’s podcast, a little delayed

Sorry for the delay on getting episode 35 published today.  It’ll be out early evening today.  I would’ve done it yesterday, but Amanda took us to see a couple of exhibitions and a…fuck, “play” ain’t even the right word for it.

The first exhibition we saw “Lost and Found In The Funhouse,” a show about JHU’s own John Barth.  This was in the George Peabody Library, consistently rated in the top 10 awesomest libraries in the world, down in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood here in Baltimore.  (Canelli knows what I’m talking about!)  It was pretty interesting.  I don’t really know much about Barth.  I have a copy of Lost in the Funhouse from my summer 2014 writing class, but we never got to the book before the semester ended.  Anyway, the exhibition was enlightening, so go check it out.

The second exhibition was also in the Peabody Library: Lu Zhang’s “topo(log) typo(log)”.  It’s the culmination of a yearlong studio residency at the library.  The output is modest in quantity but incredible in quality.  There are some clever pieces, and it all just oozes with love for the famous library.

Finally, the “play” we saw last night, The Mesmeric Revelations of Edgar Allan Poe.  The video on the site, man, it just doesn’t do the show any justice.  Because it was fucking incredible.  Basically, the play happens (mostly) on the first floor of an historic Baltimore home just a few blocks from the Peabody.  No, it’s not “set” in an historic home–you are in this house, walking from room to room, as the performance is being done.  You are part of the performance.  The characters are whispering secrets in people’s ears, having crazy epileptic seizures in the hallway as we step over them, giving us tasks (like don’t let the maid downstairs or she’ll kill everyone (or maybe she already killed them all, it wasn’t clear)), involving us in a seance, pulling us–alone–upstairs to a murder room and asking them to read aloud from a book on how to be a proper butler/servant.

When that last bit happened to me, that’s when it clicked in my head what has happening, how each of us “viewers” were helping to build an experience for the rest.  I immediately regretted not slamming the door to the murder room harder (doors were being randomly slammed and squeaked all throughout the show and got to be really fucking creepy).  And I tried my best to read loud enough so that my voice might echo down the stairs into the main corridor.

There was also a point where I was pulled up on a tiny stage in one room by, what Amanda told me, a ghost to read Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speak while the ghost acted out the part of Ophelia.  That’s when I thought, “Damn, if only Canelli were here now, in Baltimore.  He’d eat this up like a mudder in slop.”

To add to the bizarreness, there was one bald guy with oversized glasses (a viewer like the rest of us), a pear-shaped dumpling of a man in a bright yellow shirt, who really got into the whole show as the actors pulled him from room to room.  That really just upped the Lynchian absurdity of the whole thing.

Now, was there a single cohesive plot and clearly defined characters?  Who the fuck knows.  And who cares?  The whole thing was just so over-the-top, novel, weird, and absurd, that I stopped trying to figure anything out and just drifted along whatever was happening.  The best description of what was happening, I think, is that it was the weirdest parts of Twin Peaks crossed with Edgar Allan Poe with a dash of Cartilage Head (follow this achewood thread to it’s completion seven episodes later).

So, that’s why the episode’s going to be late today.

2 Comments

  1. Luigus

    I’m pretty sure I’ve told you about this before, but I went to a similarly immersive “play” called “Sleep No More” in NYC (I didn’t realize until deep into the show that they were performing Macbeth). It was set across 5 stories of an old hotel, and like you’re trying to describe, it was a powerful experience. I still have the mask I had to wear as a member of the “audience.” So you’re right, I would’ve eaten it up!

    Reply
  2. Ed Burnham

    The “play” sounds like it must have been great fun!

    Reply

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