The Devotional Re-Creation of Tragedy in Spades: Towards A New Stagecraft for Nostalgia by Katherine Brook

It’s Friday night on the Lower East Side at University Settlement, early slate-gray April, and a small audience has gathered to watch the opening of a play called Tragedy in Spades: A Crime Documentary. Or, as director Katherine Brook and writer Liza Birkenmeier tell us in programs dispensed at the door, it’s “a re-enactment piece,” based on a VHS tape found in an antique shop in Missouri by Birkenmeier. If you like petty intrigue, this might be your bag; the cover of the salvaged VHS titillates:

OBSESSED WITH A MURDER IN HER RURAL TOWN, VETERINARIAN AND AMATEUR FILMMAKER LORNA DAS UNCOVERS SOME OF THE HARROWING DETAILS THAT LED TO USPEAKABLE TRAGEDY IN THIS THRILLING 1994 CRIME DOCUMENTARY

The typo and perma-caps appear intentionally translated and it’s a trashy description; the evening is a hoax. But the performance space we enter is decidedly lacking in smoke and mirrors, as juxtaposed with the lurid proposal in the program. No pop or irony on display, just open pea green curtains framing a room void of set—save the small table down center for a script and mic, large speakers turned away from the audience, and some chairs that form an arc facing the upstage. The vibe is minimalist, not-chic, more AA meeting than gallery...

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KBTV on Culturebot by Katherine Brook

SHIFTING FROM NEUTRAL: AN AFFECTFUL MANIFESTO

Neutral means without affect or action. It also has come to mean non-acting. I think it means normative. Authentic means true, and without filter. It has come to mean felt. I think it means normative. Real means not artificial. It has come to mean believable. I think it means nothing...

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