THE FLOCK FORMATION OR CATCH THE WALL IS NOT A HERO’S JOURNEY.
It is important to note in this piece that many folks including myself have nudged Gabrielle towards revisions that puts a singular character or theme or question at the forefront of the play and then asked her to solve for that particular journey. You might recall my obsession with organizing this play like a flock of geese.
That is not what the play wants. CATCH THE WALL is a play about many things, but one predominant piece is the city of New Orleans itself. In Gabrielle’s words, the city is not a hero nor is the city on a hero’s journey. In fact the city is willfully un-heroic and that’s what makes it distinctively and totally New Orleans.
Similarly this play willfully engages other forms of narrative and storytelling.
Time functions like liquid on purpose, it is ephemeral on purpose, the stops and starts of the play’s rhythm is on purpose, they particular way images and words and places are braided together and then unbraided is on purpose.
This piece should descend upon you like a non-linear swarm or a cloud or a net. We the audience are meant to live inside the play experiencing the story threads take shape and then disintegrate around us.
I was particularly taken by the way our PDW class described the physical world of the play as they wanted to experience it. Everyone demonstrated a desire for a 360 degree experience of the piece- everyone wanted to enter a space where the roles of performer and viewer were muddied, everyone advocated for some kind of participation from the audience. This was a marked difference from the way we spoke about the play on our first pass. We asked Gabrielle for a different kind of structure that front loaded character development.
After a four draft journey with this piece I feel that the journey of character is woven into a symbiotic relationship with journey of the city, the institution of the charter school and the journey of memory and remembering.
Like Bounce music, which simply overflows with imagery, symbol, desire, confrontation, joy and a call to get down, this play weaves all its constituent parts into a whole that can’t actually be parsed. To revise this play means revising the swarm. I say this because I think it is paramount from one creative team to another that we don’t place the weight of classic narrative structure on the piece. This narrative adheres to the jazz aesthetic and you need all the instruments and voices tuned into each other to recognize the wholeness of the play.
|—||Daria Davis, UT dramaturg for CATCH THE WALL|
Hot Potato Style- Nicky da B killin it
Walk Alot Girls
Messy Mya was the ghost in the play before Benefit came in. He was hilarious, but made everything messier, crazier, and didn’t really care much about Justice and Cleo.
There are Hundreds of Messy Mya videos online. Some of my favorites are of him and his grandmother, who is an even greater force of nature. Many are pretty abrasive though, as most of his humor is simply mean, booking on people who can’t or won’t book back. His videos are also full of great tag lines, the most infamous being, “Bitch I said it, now who gon’pop me?” He was killed in November of 2010, and has become incredibly popular in New Orleans since his death.
He’s a fascinating character for a number of reasons, in part because you can see his sexual identity shift in the course of these videos. In part because of his language, which is fantastic, and something I really do miss from having him in the play. And in part because, in real life, he was the grandson of the imprisoned New Orleans political powerbroker Pampy Barre. At a reading we had of the play in New Orleans in January, everyone had an opinion on Messy Mya. From 17 year olds to 76 year year olds, he was someone everyone wanted to talk about.
Even though he’s no longer a character, Messy Mya seems to be still haunting this play. I think I still have to figure out what to do with that.
Here’s some videos I made with students during the years I worked as a teaching artist in NO. There are some fun dance-y summer camp ones, and lots of pretty controlled ones about 1st grade science.
One of my favorite videos on this list is The Good Student Curse, a retelling of the Midas myth by a 5th grade class, where everything their principal touches turns to into a good student. (At first it’s great but then he touches his lunch, his car, his son.) The superintendent of the RSD makes an appearance as a magic genie, as do some state examiners who are there to see if the school’s charter gets renewed. The video looks like it’s been corrupted, unfortunately. It’s watchable, but jerky.
This is the first of a three part series my friend Andrew Larimer made with a film class he was teaching at The Porch in New Orleans’s 7th Ward. The story follows the fall out after the shooting of the main character’s older brother, and sort of documents this revenge killing cycle New Orleans is stuck in right now. It’s got some lovely shots and sounds of the city in it. And some great acting by middle schoolers.