Saturday, September 1, 2012

Party People

Photo credit:  Oregon Shakespeare Festival
"This is not a history lesson!" a line spoken near the beginning of the play sets the stage for what actually appears to be just that, a lesson in the historical roles of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, in the turbulent years of change throughout the 1960's and 1970's.

In collaboration with UNIVERSES, OSF has once again set the stage for an impressive production of a time in U.S. history some may remember as unseemly or militant, while others remember it as necessary for social and political change. 

Two young men, both of whom have family members who were there at the time of the revolution, are taking their message to the people. Through the use of the social network they aspire to reach a broad new audience, a new revolution for a new age. To do so, they must enlist the help of those who were there, those who lived it, survived it, and the stories only they can tell.   

Through the use of imagination, the audience is able to picture the art gallery, warehouse, or chosen venue as they see it in their mind's eye, and that is the scene of the event, at which the past will come together with the future. Those who were there come face to face with the unveiling of a collection of memorabilia from the past revolution. The power, the spirit, the betrayals, the truths and untruths all unfold in this room, on this night.  It is a night of reflection, forgiveness, letting go and embracing the next generation, the next revolution.

The setting of the story is perfect in its simplicity, with scaffolding, metal stairways and catwalks.  Throughout the performance, what's happening on stage is simultaneously projected on the large backdrop screen.  The images are profound and drive home the concept of the new age of communication; capturing the action at the moment of impact.

Party People is not fully a musical production, yet the rhythm of the beat is very much a key element of the production. The choreography of the movements, of the actors, is a powerful story in itself.  The language, both spoken and physical, is often harsh and difficult to hear and/or watch, and may not be appropriate for young audience members, but it is critical to the story and does not feel out of place.

OSF's production of Party People is excellent, plain and simple, and should not be missed.  Directed by Liesl Tommy, with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes including a 15-minute intermission, Party People runs through November 3.

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