THIS WAS THE END
MALLORY CATLETT / RESTLESS NYC
“This Was The End,” a performance in which four actors in their sixties and seventies attempt each night to get to the end of “Uncle Vanya”—in a last ditch effort to alter the outcome. In Chekhov’s play, Vanya asks, “What if I live to be 60?” “This Was The End” performs an answer. It uses the play to pose questions about how memory functions in the formation of the future. Having the roles played by older actors makes visible the physical manifestations of time suggesting that there might be something haunting and surprising in “Uncle Vanya” that only this older group of performers can uncover. The cast featured veteran downtown luminaries Black-Eyed Susan, Paul Zimet, Jim Himelsbach and Rae C Wright.
The set design by Peter Ksander features the actual wall from the Mabou Mines studio, which was salvaged from the PS 122 before it closed for renovation. The sound and video design features an improvisational score of voice and image that converge with the live performers. The video, which projects the wall onto itself, creates a temporal blur out of which the past can emerge and recede. The sound includes fragments of Chekhov’s text mixed live onstage by sound artist G. Lucas Crane, a DJ of analog tape machines, to trigger memory and to create new configurations in the present. Like the aging characters, the physical cassette tape he records onto is a perpetually degrading medium that is breaking while it is playing. Rounding out the creative team are Oliver Gajic (costumes), Chris Kuhl (lighting), Keith Skretch (video), Ryan Holsopple (programming) & Johanna Meyer (choreography). “This Was The End” was awarded an Obie, a Bessie and David Hewes Design Award.