As the global pandemic has reconfigured public life, theatre artists are beginning to reimagine the medium. We believe in the civic function of theatre and in the incredible power of sharing space. It is central to our artistic identity. And in this time, we are exploring the ways those functions transcend the physical meeting place and triumph over fear and uncertainty. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues whose lives and livelihoods are jeopardized. The ghost light is now our beacon of hope, and we know it will guide us back to the theatre soon.
Until then, we will continue to experiment with ways to bring theatre to you. As theatre training programs have also moved online, a group of students from the UMN/Guthrie BFA training program created a Quarantine Bakeoff. (A bake-off is a method for playwriting developed by the luminary writer and teacher Paula Vogel. Playwrights use a collection of ingredients to write a play. You can read more about this amazing process here.)
Artistic Associate Tanuja Jagernauth's Quarantine Bakeoff play, A Golden Afternoon, is a short play that captures the experience all of the not-knowingness of this moment. In it, an actor sits alone in an empty theatre called The Pequod (a wink to Captain Ahab's whaling ship in Herman Melville's Moby Dick). Her production has been canceled. She is brimming with thoughts and feelings but doesn't have the language to encapsulate the totality of her experience. From chaotic grocery store videos to bidet jokes to involuntary solitude, A Golden Afternoon provides a snapshot of this moment we're all figuring out how to live through, a moment on the brink.
A brief excerpt is below, or you can read the whole play here.
As TONI describes the scene, the dark theater around her lights up and transforms. TONI Well, first of all, in Disney's animated version of "Alice in Wonderland," it's the part where Alice is Tiny Alice, and she's with the flowers— CLAIRE OH, I LOVE THAT PART! OH MY GOD, I've seen this movie like a million times! TONI Yeah! So in OUR Alice we had to change a few things so we could skip getting the rights— CLAIRE Smart. TONI But the song...we kept it... CLAIRE DUH! TONI It's just too good not to? CLAIRE Absolutely. TONI It's not too long, though, so we're hoping we can get away with it? What am I saying—the show might never happen now! CLAIRE It's gonna happen! TONI GOD I HOPE SO! Okay, anyway, so Alice is tiny, and in this scene before the song begins she's in a beautiful green clearing full of bright yellow daffodils and cheerful daisies, and— CLAIRE I see it! TONI And—and there's these bright lavender irises and flaming orange tiger lilies—
CLAIRE YES! TONI And this is where we begin our song.