By Ryan Stevens
Photos by Rob Sprankle
High-Concept Humiliation was a project devised specifically for Columbia’s bi-annual Grindhouse Short Play Festival. The idea of the project was to explore issues of gender, class, power, and the male gaze in the entertainment industry in a way that would be entertaining and energetic, but without being either too didactic or too sensational. The greatest risk of the piece, as with many works of satire, was potentially hewing too close to the type of entertainment we were seeking to eschew—I avoided this pitfall through countless careful discussions with the actors about their comfort level, their agreement/disagreement with the text and its arrangement onstage, and their personal interpretations of the piece.
The design, similar to my schematic for Glengarry, was intentionally bare-bones. The three personalities that overtake the space in many ways take over the duties of the set, selling to us the high-speed high-stress Hollywood of the play. The most rewarding part of this project was hearing new expulsions of surprise from the audience; delight, disgust, outright confusion—it was a piece that accomplished its goal to challenge and baffle its audience and the way they sample entertainment.
Director: Ryan Stevens
Set Designer: Abigail McNeely
Costume Designer: Ryan Stevens
Lighting Designer: Sallie Sargent
Production Stage Manager: Kira Neighbors
Sound Designer: Michael Castro