You could not have lived
through the attacks of September 11 without being changed by them, and without
thinking "Who are we?", "Who feels that they have had to bow
down to us?" and "Who or what do we bow down to?". This, in a
nutshell, is the notion of "Bow Down," a new play by Joe Brady and
directed by Raine Bode. The piece is set "on a stage at La MaMa,"
where a cast of newly-independent young adults are performing a comedy based
on the events of the past year.
It's a play-within-a-play,
sort of a post 9/11 "Six Characters in Search of an Author," which
gives the feeling of being in a tornado as one's life-elements are stripped
away by events larger than oneself. A young man bows down to love, another
young man bows down to the terrorist attacks, an actor gives a disquisition
on hero worship and personal risk, and all grope around for emotional ballast.
Pop culture nomenclature and images waft through their minds, the script and
the playing space, like harpies. The total effect is meant to be greater than
the sum of its parts, embodying the personal swirl of a generation which has
heard, loud and clear, the stern command of the forces of history to get real.
The effect is not to be beheld in the disconnected plot line of the piece,
but in a greater sense: the refraction of life's ephemera in the double-illusion
of a stage in the stage.
The play was written on
impulse by Joe Brady, based on conversations with director Raine Bode in which
they marveled at ideas of what they were and were not willing to bow down
to after the events of 9/11. The song, "Bow Down," came first, and a
play congealed around it, filled with little realistic moments and scenes and
a stream-of-conscious feeling overall. Brady and Bode had been collaborators
in a theater group called The Flying Tongues in Baltimore, where Bode had directed
Brady's play, "Punch the Clock," which wedded monologues with sketch
Joe Brady graduated in 1989 from
Towson State University with a BS in Theatre. He has worked as Assistant
to the Dramaturgy at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and as a free-lance director
and actor in Baltimore. In 1992 he founded both Mother Lode Productions,
a theatre company dedicated to producing works which focus on social and
political themes; and The Flying Tongues, a sketch comedy/improv troupe.
Over the next six years both groups flourished. With Mother Lode Productions,
he won Best Director and Best Production awards for "The Mysteries"
and "What's So Funny" by David Gordon and "Waiting For Lefty"
by Clifford Odets. He also won Best Director for "Kafka Dances" by
Timothy Daly at Axis Theatre.
During this same period,
the Flying Tongues won Best Comedy Group and toured the country performing
in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Waterloo, Wisconsin. In 1998, Brady moved back
to Chicago to study sketch comedy and improv at Second City, Improv Olympic
and the Annoyance Theaters. He was a founder of the long form improv group
Blue Highway. He won Best Play for "The Vestibule" as part of Collaboraction's SketchbookOne
Festival in Chicago. Brady is currently completing his MFA in Directing at Brooklyn
College, where he is staging "He Who Gets Slapped" by Leonid Andreyev.
He is currently workshopping his new play, "Prisoners of War," in
Brooklyn and is Literary Manager of Jean Cocteau Repertory.
Bode is making her New York directing debut. Prior to this her,
New York theatre credits included stage managing for Ellen Stewart's "Seven
Against Thebes," both At La MaMa's Annex Theatre in the spring of 2001
and on tour in the summer of 2002 in Austria, Croatia and Yugoslavia. She also
stage managed "Three Valises," directed by George Ferencz at La MaMa
last season, and was assistant director for Mahmood Karimi-Hakak's "Mathnavi,"
also at La MaMa last season. Prior to moving to New York, Bode primarily worked
with Mongrel Theatre, an independent theatre company, in Baltimore, MD, of which
she was co-founder and Artistic Director. With Mongrel, she staged Max Frisch's
"The Firebugs," Sam Shepard's "Buried Child," Samuel Beckett's
"Not I," and her own play, "Judith," an original work based
on the apocryphal book of Judith. As producer of Mongrel, she mounted numerous
productions including Karl and Joseph Capek's "Insect Play" and Harold
Elsewhere in the Baltimore/Washington
Area, she directed "Leonardo's Last Supper" for More Theatre Company,
"The Lover" for New Century Theatre and "Punch the Clock"
for The Flying Tongues. She also was a co-creator and participant in Seven Stages,
an experimental performance piece which traveled to London and Edinburgh's Fringe
festival. Ms. Bode is currently developing an original work called "Smalltimore,"
which is based on original stories written by a wide variety of Baltimore residents
reflecting on the state of small American industrial cities in the age of technology.
(L to R: Anne Moore, TateHenderson, Ramona Pula,
Melissa Glassman, Cornelia Hepner)
photo credit: Antonio Cerezo