THE WORKING THEATRE COLLECTIVE and Action/Adventure Theatre have teamed up for the very first time to bring us Something Epic/Everyday. This original, ensemble-generated show sings, dances, pantomimes, recites, and rhapsodizes its way through these tough times. We've lost jobs, lost homes, lost faith in the system, lost the capital-D American Dream. This performance stops to look at those experiences, but it also looks ahead.
Creators and performers Tara Coen, Noah Dunham (who happens to work at this paper), Noelle Eaton, Devon Wade Granmo and director Ashley Hollingshead seem to know first-hand that the only thing worse than having no job is having a job where you have to wear a funny hat. They know what it feels like to have a card declined and what the inside of the unemployment office looks like. Thankfully, they also know how to dance.
In one number, "I Just Wanna Live on a Farm," the ensemble manages to do the twist while singing of leafy greens with only the slightest touch of irony. It's sincere, this desire to escape the pressures and disappointments of the modern world and live self-sustained. But on the flip side, another scene comes from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, when the tenant farmers lose their land to the bank. "The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It's the monster. Men made it, but they can't control it." Nobody says it better than Steinbeck.
Except for maybe Bruce Springsteen, whose hard-hitting words and melodies also make repeat appearances in this show. There's a heavy layer of Midwest, working-class dust that covers this whole production. It's not nostalgic, or patriotic, or indulgent. This show came from the minds and hearts of young people who have been spoon-fed the American Dream far past its expiration date.
What happens when a mechanized system without a face or a name burns enough people? Well, they find Something Epic/Everyday. Usually it starts with a conversation. Introduce yourself to that guy who sells you cheap beer at your corner market, and end up sharing a homebrew and ideas to improve the neighborhood.
The success of this show is itself a testament to the power of collaborating during tough times. Together, the WTC and Action/Adventure have made something fresh, funny, and poignant, something locally grown, something all their own. They are living the (new) Dream.