Magazine article American Theatre

Living in Deferred Time

Magazine article American Theatre

Living in Deferred Time

Article excerpt

Living outside of normative time and space leads to tragedy--at least it does for the yachtsman and grandmother who are the central characters in Jet Lag, the fascinating cross-media collaboration between the New York--based Builders Association and Diller & Scofidio, an architectural team with an interest in experimental theatre. The production, already a success in several U.S. cities and abroad, will appear in Montreal in May at the Festival de theatres des Ameriques' Th[acute{e}][hat{a}]tre du monde festival (May 23-26), and in July will open the Barbican International Theatre Exhibition in London.

Directed by Marianne Weems from a script by Jessica Chalmers, Jet Lag tells two stranger-than-fiction true stories--that of yachtsman Roger Dearborn, who fabricates his own progress reports in a round-the-world race, and that of Doris Ackerman, a grandmother who takes 167 back-to-back trans-Atlantic plane trips with her grandson in tow, in an effort to keep the child away from his father. Ultimately, Dearborn dies of madness, and the grandmother, of jet lag.

As one might expect from a work about high-speed travel, Jet Lag foregrounds technology, giving a prominent role to video design, computer animations and sound design. In the scenes set on Dearborn's cramped sailboat, for example, a video camera relays a larger-than-life image of actor Jeff Webster onto a giant rear screen, while projections on a second, moving screen depict rolling ocean waves and a blue sky. Stage front, behind panels of liquid crystal that turn from opaque to clear at the flick of a switch, tables laden with microphones represent the radio station that carries a blow-by-blow description of Dearborn's progress.

Spurred on by the news-hounds' attention, Dearborn constructs--and eventually fakes--his own story for public consumption. …

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