Imagine waking up, doing your daily stretches and just as you’re about to start your daily routine-four men in dark suits and sunglasses burst into your room. Have they come to bring you breakfast? A cup of tea? Or are they there to arrest you for a mysterious crime you don’t know if you’ve committed?
That’s the situation Joseph K. faces in the Neo-Futurists’ K, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, being presented in conjunction with The New York International Fringe Festival from August 13-24.
Joseph K. is arrested and put on trial for a crime that is never really explained to him. Neither Judge nor Court Clerk nor Court Painter ever specifically tells him what his case is about, but there is no shortage of advice on how he should handle it.
Neo-Futurism was founded in 1988, by director/playwright of K., Greg Allen. Allen was “tired of doing theatre for just my friends” and created the wildly successful Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, a collection of 30 plays in 60 minutes where the audience has the opportunity to choose the order in which the plays are done.
Allen, a teacher of theatre history at Columbia College, bases his performance theories on the Futurist Manifestos of F.T. Marinetti. "Futurism," an artistic movement based on speed, movement and violence, was founded in 1910 by Marinetti. Allen told PBOL “I wanted to explore the performance theories of Futurism, Dada, and Environmental Theatre. What I saw in the Futurist theories was speed and incredible energy, even today his theories are considered outrageous.”
With K. Allen experiments with Bertolt Brecht’s (Mother Courage, Galileo) theories of alienation, where an actor playing a role constantly acknowledges that they are “putting on” a character for the play.
In K., the actor playing K. (Paul Tamney) consistently reminds the audience that he is Paul, playing the character “K.” Tamney, (or is it “K.”?), is constantly referring to Kafka’s book throughout the play, and even leaves the theatre at one point through frustration. Allen says “ Paul [Tamney] ‘s fate parallels K.’s . Paul wants out of the situation of playing “K” and “K” wants out of his situation, the trial”.
While watching K., Allen states, the “audience becomes the oppressors. People watching people being tortured for their enjoyment. The Court becomes the theatre.”
The production plays at The New York International Fringe Festival from August 13-24 at various times and dates. For more information about the Fringe’s schedule call 1(888) fringenyc.
--By Sean McGrath