OBSTRUCTIONS is structured as a continuously evolving entity. As each one is changing slightly here is a basic rundown of what happened at Radix’s Obstructions last Saturday night:
On the ticket, it said to dress in peasant style clothes, to bring a carrot, and a donation for the food bank. The parking lot was filled with lots of plaid. I arrived just as the show was about to start. We slowly packed ourselves into Progress Lab 1422, all holding onto our individual carrots, eventually situating ourselves in front of the closed studio door. The people in the front sat down and we all listened to a small introduction about the inspiration for OBSTRUCTIONS, the video of Radix getting their obstructions, and the trailer to BEUTFL PRBLMS (Radix produced this show in 2011 and had been commanded to revisit the central question of the project in tonight’s presentation). Then the studio doors opened and we all filed inside.
After taking our seats and the dimming of the lights, in marched Andrew Laurenson with a headdress made of carrots. The hilarity continued from there. What proceeded was lots of carrot innuendos, quite a few laughs and at least one count of mistaken identity.
There was a ten-minute break and we reconvened back in the theatre.
One of the goals for OBSTRUCTIONS is to challenge the artist to expand outside their normal way of operating and to promote dialogue and critical thinking among the audience. The format of judging was changed to reflect these goals. Instead of judging behind a curtain the members of the other Progress Lab companies stood at the front for a conversation with Radix and the audience surrounding both the play and the obstructions.
The results were as follows:
Obstruction #1: Andrew Laurenson must revisit and answer the central question of BEUTFL PRBLMS
This Obstruction was given because someone from Progress Lab overheard Andrew said that he would like to revisit and complete BEUTFL PRBLMS (they admitted after that it was most likely sarcastic, but he got it anyway). The first question posed in the discussion was, “What was the central question of BEUTFL PRBLMS?” I didn’t see the original play, but from the conversation I took away that the central question was: how do we live in a way that is responsible to the world around us? This is the question that a large part of humanity is working to answer. Radix’s OBSTRUCTION, BEUTFL CARATS, presented the issue using carrots as a metaphor for our use of energy resources. There was general consensus that it is impossible to answer the question of the human condition. Andrew talked about his own struggles with the impact and importance of theatre. Is raising awareness the answer? Is it enough? The eventual agreement was that the obstruction itself was impossible to fulfill, but I do think that just the conversation and inspiring people to talk about the issues creates some sort of positive move forward even the question remains unanswered.
Obstruction #2: In the style of French farce.
Having never seen a French farce, I felt woefully under-prepared to judge this obstruction. However, after hearing the definition from Wikipedia it seemed that Radix did a great job making a French farce within the constraints that they have. What I think the obstruction brought to the performance, beside lots of puns and quips about carrots, was highlighting the need for comedy and laughter at the absurdity that is the human condition.
Obstruction #3: Using a set made of carrots.
This obstruction origintated from a suggestion in a Radix workshop when someone suggested a set of carrots, this idea later caught on in the context of obstructions. The crux of the debate came down to whether the set was made of carrots or it was a set with carrots as props. I’m still not sure which side I agree with. Progress Lab voted that the carrots were props; while the audience voted that the carrots were the set. As one person pointed out the play could not work without carrots. At the same time there were lots of other props on stage that were not carrots that were just as prominent – if not more prominent than the carrots –so where do you draw the line?
After another 10 minute intermission Theatre Conspiracy received their Obstructions . Afterwards there was conversation and lots of leftover carrots . Obstructions continues with Leaky Heaven will be up next in the fall.
What are your thoughts about Radix’s interpretation of their obstructions? Leave your comments down below.