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Hitting a “button” can be as simple as tuning in to a YouTube video or as morally complex as releasing a bomb from an unmanned drone flying over a foreign land. Punctum, the ASU School of Theatre and Film’s experimental theatre company, explores these issues in its new work "POVV: Prisoner of View / Point of War" that premieres Sept. 28 and continues through Oct. 7 on the ASU Tempe campus.
In "POVV," audience members will be invited to examine questions surrounding life in the digital age. Characters in the play include a “Roomba” (yes, the little robotic vacuum cleaner) that wants to take over the world; Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Kevin Carter, an idealistic artist searching for truth; and other characters from the real to the absurd. The result is not theatre as you might have known in the past, but something new, experimental and evolving.
“We do not have answers, but we would like to ask the questions,” said Brian Foley, the School of Theatre and Film MFA student who is co-directing "POVV." “The group uses the slogan ‘Push the Button’ to inspire people to see the show. ‘Push the button’ is a provocation, an invitation, a tease, a repetition of a moment offered hundreds of times in an average citizen's daily life.”
“At the ATM, we push the button. At the grocery store, the gas station, the computer, on the mobile phone, on the car's keychain remote. "POVV" is simultaneously an opportunity to break out of the daily routine, out of being a prisoner of view; to blow up your daily existence, look at the individual pieces,” Foley said. “How can you fit them together in a way that works for you?’’
The creation of "POVV" has been an artistic endeavor that is at the heart of the School of Theatre and Film’s Master of Fine Arts degree, which seeks to create new theatre that resonates with modern day audiences, according to Foley.
“Most theatre companies are formed by like-minded artists who come together and bond over similarities of aesthetics, backgrounds, or missions,” Foley said. “In this case, thirteen artists at different stages in their lives and careers have been thrust together by the fact we are all studying at ASU. We bring different visions of theatre, different moral codes, different languages, vastly different life experience.”
“At ASU, we are literally creating the theatre of the future,” he said. “The work on the MainStage is not a retread of a Shakespeare play or a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that many have seen before."
"We are challenging our own imaginations to create a new method of storytelling and devising new methods to bring contemporary issues to the stage. We are inviting our audiences to collaborate with us to find a vision of theatre that connects to our campus, our community in the Valley and the family of international theatre artists to which we belong.”
The group drew the name Punctum from French literary theorists Roland Barthes’ idea of a critical moment in art when “the heart is pierced” and performer and audience are close to something “resonant, striking and true,” Foley explained.
“New media is prevalent, invasive, and empowering,” said Megan Weaver, "POVV" co-director. “It defines the way we conduct wars, the way we disseminate information, the way we think, the very ways we form language. And it's not going away. There are some wonderful, and some uncomfortable, implications in that – and we hope 'POVV' provokes thought, questioning and perhaps a moment of punctum.”
Performances are at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 28-29; 2 p.m., Sept. 30; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 4-6; and 2 p.m., Oct. 7 at the Lyceum Theatre, 901. S. Forest Mall, ASU Tempe campus. Tickets are $8-$16 for adults with seniors, ASU faculty, students and staff receiving special rates. Group discounts are also available.
To reserve tickets contact the Herberger Institute box office, 480.965.6447 or visit mainstage. Order tickets to three or more Herberger Institute season events by Oct. 1 and receive a 15 percent discount.