Sunday, May 06, 2007

Renaissance (from Project Greenlight)

Title: Renaissance
Authors: Howard Walper, Steven Gottlieb, Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Based on the finalist screenplay for Project Greenlight (Contest 2, in 2003) by Howard Walper and Steven Gottlieb
Performed by the Landless Theater Company at the District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th Street NW, Washington DC 20009-2004 (in Adams Morgan)
Directed by John-Paul Pizzica
When seen: Sunday, May 6, 2007

This play is a reverse adaptation, from movie screenplay to stage play. In present day, it is about the relationship between Shalom (Allan Kulalow), a veteran of World War II with total amnesia from a head wound, and Emma (Penny Peterson), a concentration camp survivor now facing chemotherapy for breast cancer. The story has Shalom discovering his former self through interactions with others and flashbacks. The cast includes Alex Zavistovich, John Sadowsky, Tinq Renay Fulp, Day Walters, and Dan Cullen. Some of the script does deal with the psychological issues of having to survive oppression collectively, even when one has to give up one's own goals in life, perhaps for group goals like a new homeland (in Palestine, with respect to the end of WWII).

The stage is small, and much of the atmosphere came from the artwork hung around it, much of it in black and white (one piece was an interesting tower that looked like it could have come from Clive Barker’s Imajica). I had the impression that the present day scenes would have been in color, and the flashbacks in black and white or muted sepia colors, in a film. Although in a stage play you have automatic 3-D, here one needed the resources of film and visual composition in order to delineate the story. The denouement, where Shalom is told that he is no artist, is shocking.

This play does sound like a natural project for The Weinstein Company some day.

This play and screenplay should not be confused with the French animated film (2006) from Miramax (ironically) and director Christian Volckman, with a moral that seems related. (Review).

Earlier blog posting on Project Greenlight.

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