Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Get in the Election Day Spirit Brush Up on Your History of U.S. Leaders at Bricolage's '44 Plays for 44 Presidents'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Get in the Election Day Spirit Brush Up on Your History of U.S. Leaders at Bricolage's '44 Plays for 44 Presidents'

Article excerpt

Here's something for the person who just can't get enough presidential politics.

It's "44 Plays for 44 Presidents," a two-hour collection of short biographical scenes depicting each of our nation's leaders.

And -- just like real life -- it's a little bit funny, a little bit sad, a little bit absurd.

"The '44 Plays for 44 Presidents' is part of what we call 'The Fifth Wall Series,' which seeks to connect world events with scripted material," said Jeffrey Carpenter, artistic director for Bricolage, the local production company he founded 10 years ago.

"'Bricolage' means 'making artful use of what's at hand,'" he said. "Our mission is 'adventurous theater,' and we're trying -- pretty much with everything we do -- to break down the fourth wall and create a heightened sense of involvement for the audience. And that manifests itself in a variety of ways."

Tonight, those creative risks are made manifest through the presidency.

"44 Plays for 44 Presidents" was first produced by the Chicago- based Neo-Futurists in 2001. Well, that's not exactly right. Back then, it was "43 Plays for 43 Presidents."

The plays are kind of like fast-paced skits coming at you in chronological order, each depicting the lives and legacies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson ... right up to and including President Barack Obama. (It's possible that they might have to add Mitt Romney, but if they do, it won't be for another couple of months.)

Washington's time is presented in an Eden-like wonderment, while Jefferson's time comes across as Ben Franklin giving a Borscht Belt- style roast.

The creative people behind the Plays for Presidents Festival thought it would be interesting to have a bunch of presentations of their show across the country tonight -- the night before Election Day -- and the creative people at Bricolage were happy to join in. …

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