7:15 pm | $5 | 55 mins| The Artist’s New Work Forum provides an opportunity for artists to present new work or works-in-progress to the public. Audiences are asked to participate in a survey and Q&A immediately following the presentation with the artists.
The Tubes is an absurdist comedy about the the intrusion of technology, the complexities of communication, and the anxieties of old age.
Synopsis: For forty-five years, an old, married couple, Gertie and Roy, have lived and worked in a subterranean “Pneumatic Transfer Station,” where they transfer messages that come through the city-wide network of pneumatic tubes (an archaic internet-before-the-internet that flourished briefly in the early 20th Century before the telephone and other cultural forces made it obsolete). However, it’s been five years since the last message came through, and they are left to wonder what’s happened to the tubes— and to the world at large. Gertie and Roy spend their days fretting and philosophizing, commiserating and quibbling, telling stories and reminiscing, speculating about the world outside and receiving visits from a curious parade of lost souls, each of whom reminds them of their estranged son Fred. When their isolation and waning health prompt them to finally take action and send a message into the machine, they begin to receive a series of increasingly bizarre responses from someone—or something— that forces them to confront a troubling question: have the tubes developed a mind of their own?
Inspired by the absurdist theatrical works of Ionesco, Beckett, Stoppard, Pinter, and Vian, The Tubes is intended to be minimalistic in presentation and darkly humorous in tone, exploring both the timely theme of our anxiety about technology, as well as the timeless themes of aging and communication. The vast network of pneumatic tubes (which, we are told, lies just beyond the realm of our set) becomes variously expressive of the intrusion of technology, the obsolescence of technology, and, ultimately, the potential intelligence of technology. And as Gertie and Roy grow old waiting for the tubes to turn back on, this anachronistic form of communication (the now-ruined “nervous system of the city”) is also linked to Gertie’s increasingly frail mind. The haunted young men who visit them (each of whom is possibly their estranged son Fred) will serve to heighten the absurd predicament and existential questions of our two protagonists—questions that I hope will stay with our audience long after the curtain has dropped.
Tom Bean is a screenwriter and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. He collaborated with director Gillian Robespierre on her film Landline (starring Jenny Slate, Jay Duplass, Edie Falco, and John Turturro), which premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently released in theaters by Amazon Studios. Previously, Tom co-wrote and directed the feature-length documentary Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself about the life of writer, editor, and literary impresario George Plimpton, which was released in theaters and then presented on TV as part of PBS’s American Masters series. Additionally, he co-created and produced the ongoing short film series My First Time for the literary magazine The Paris Review, which features interviews with notable writers about their first published work (subjects have included George Saunders, Sheila Heti, and Jeffrey Eugenides). Tom is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Greta Baker Classically trained in the traditional Noh drama, Baker has used that Zen inflected theatre form as a starting place in an ongoing exploration of masked performance, minimalist and essential theatre. Trained by Kurita Ryozo, head of the Komparu school for western Japan, Baker is a rare non-Japanese person granted the license of a professional teacher and performer of Noh. Fusing traditional Japanese forms with her education and experience in Western theatre traditions, and inspired by Grotowski’s concept of the poor theatre, Baker has developed a holistic experiential approach to teaching theatre skills which she has used effectively with emerging artists from kindergarten through adults in classes, workshops and residencies at the Museum of Natural History, Smith College, Woodstock Day School, Poughkeepsie Day School, Eastern Correctional Facility and the Dance Department at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.