Gathered in a semicircle in the street, a dozen or so observers watched them talk and made comments to each other -- by text message:
I think he is hiding something.
Everyone is hiding something.
Because they have NY haircuts.
At least for the four people at the table, this wasn't a social occasion. They were the cast of "Moving Pieces," a play that happens each First Friday through the summer. The "stage" is downtown
A musical trio featuring a stunning young singer,
At the beginning of each "Moving Pieces" performance, audience members' mobile numbers become part of a texting group in which the actors send one another messages as part of the storyline. And from the very first performance, attendees were not shy about joining in and answering back as they followed the actors from scene to scene.
"The texting element is something that just happened organically," said
"Moving Pieces" began to take shape last fall.
"I knew Logan's writing voice from when he'd been a student of mine, and I thought he'd be great for this piece," Scarborough said. "It's a rotating cast, so everything's different every time, but also kind of the same. Things change because of the situation downtown, too. Sometimes there are streets blocked off with things going on, and that all kind of becomes part of the show."
Scarborough instructed Sutton that the story should be fun and upbeat as well as mobile, focused on two young lovers "on the precipice of a big event in their relationship." The plot included texting to help drive events and an audience vote to decide the ending, plus it was all to be set during First Friday. There is a script, with actors changing from month to month, and the show goes on rain or shine.
"I was totally on-board," Sutton said. "First Friday is already so fun, and this exposes people to places they might not have known. It's a valuable thing the show offers to audiences and the city at large, putting people in this story where they engage with different places and mindsets."
'Flexible and fluid'
As originally conceptualized, part of "Moving Pieces" was to take place on a moving bus, which had to be abandoned for technical reasons. But just walking from place to place adds a lot to the experience. The festive atmosphere of First Friday makes downtown
Equal parts interactive live-theater experience, street-band busking concert and art-district tour, "Moving Pieces" takes attendees into places they can return to on their own after the show. It definitely shows downtown
June's show coincided with the opening of CAM's "Wander Box" beer garden, which helped draw a record 2,862 people through the museum's doors that night. Between the perfect weather and the rock band Widespread Panic playing
Depending on how the rest of the summer goes, "Moving Pieces" might also be held over into the fall -- possibly with an expanded storyline that extends some of the characters into new situations. The show has already evolved a bit based on the audience's text feedback. After the first show in May, the timing of a breakup phone call was shifted to after the audience vote on the conclusion, so as not to "stack the deck" against that particular character too much.
"Part of what makes this show so much fun is that it's flexible and fluid," Wimberley said. "It involves improv elements, and the audience is right on top of the actors. Sue calls it 'a sense of heightened realism.' What happens has got to be big enough to cut through everything else going on around it, but small enough to be believable for those parts where the actors are sitting next to you at a table."
Menconi: 919-829-4759 or www.newsobserver.com/OnTheBeat
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