Strange Attractor Theatre, Rhode Island’s only physical theatre company, invites the community to a free work-in-progress showing of their sixth original work, “Idle” on March 1 at 8 p.m. at the Mathewson St. Theatre in downtown Providence. Inspired by company member Jed Hancock-Brainerd’s childhood collection of porcelain Dickens Village Christmas Houses and the ever-growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, “Idle” is an absurdist response to the American dream of working less and having more. The showing will be followed by an informal feedback session with complimentary wine and cheese.
“Idle” centers around two identical adult twin siblings living in the protracted childhood of inherited wealth. We see their universe: old money, dusty opulence, faded power and total privilege. Without the understood demand of pursuing a career, they fill their days with hobbies, rituals and routines. They exist in a limitless house where only the occasional visitor stops in, delivers the mail and wonders at the secret lives led by the eternally affluent.
The twins are played by Strange Attractor’s Jed Hancock-Brainerd, also seen in The Wilbury Group’s “Lungs” and 2nd Story Theatre’s “Sons of the Prophet,” and resident Gamm actor Casey Seymour Kim, most recently seen in “Good People” and “Far Away.” The actors are creating the piece with the rest of the creative team, Strange Attractor’s Rebecca Noon, Elemental Theatre’s David Rabinow and The Empire Revue’s Nicky Mariani.
“This is a play I’ve been wanting to make for a long time,” said Hancock-Brainerd. “We tend to think that money solves problems, but hearing about wealthy eccentrics you realizes it just causes other problems. As an actor/creator there’s nothing better than messing around with someone else’s problems.”
Strange Attractor has been responsible for some odd and inventive work in the past four years, including 2013’s workshop showing of “Enlightenment on E Floor North,” which examined museum security guards, 2012’s “A Terrific Fire,” which turned 95 Empire into a haunted house, and 2010’s “Special Happy,” where the company threw a mad birthday party for the audience, complete with pizza, presents and cake.
This is the first time Seymour Kim has worked with the ensemble.
“We’ve been friends and mutual admirers since they moved to Providence in 2010,” said Seymour Kim. “When they asked if I wanted to make a show with them, I jumped at the chance. The way we’re creating the play together is both exhilarating and terrifying. Plus, I get to play an identical twin to a man who’s a foot taller than I am. I think people who come are going to have a great time.”
This first showing of “Idle” will occur after one year of research and one month of development in the studio.
“Describing a work-in-progress showing can be difficult,” said Noon. “Because of the way we create plays, we won’t have scripts in our hands, and we will be wearing costumes. There will probably even be sound and lights and a simple set. For all intents and purposes, it will probably feel like a show. For us, though, we’ll know that we still have a ways to go to fully develop the material and the design. Having the audience see it at this stage is how we focus on the next direction we want to take the piece.”
“Idle” is supported in part by a residency through the Mathewson Street Theatre made possible by the Rhode Island Foundation and the Tenderloin Opera Company. Throughout the spring of 2014, four companies will develop new work at the Mathewson Street Theatre in conjunction with the residency. Following Strange Attractor, audiences can come see the work of David Tessier’s All Stars, the Tenderloin Opera Company, and OutLoud Theatre.