Remember that time we spent 3+ years making a musical about American Capitalism?
Filmmaker Paulette Douglas traveled from NY to Vegas to Europe and back with us, and the resulting documentary is finally making its NYC debut. Join us June 26th (details below) for the NYC premiere screening, and stay after for a talkback with the cast, a beer with us at the bar, and a performance by our darling, Obie-award-winning composer Heather Christian.
The TEAM Makes A Play
Thursday, June 26 at 7:30pm
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
$15 advance / $20 door / $10 students
Buy Tickets Now
Tickets can be purchased through Ticket Central via www.ticketcentral.com, by calling 212-279-4200, or in person at 416 W. 42nd Street (12-8pm daily).
Before we arrived in London, the hashtag #MissionDrift was more likely to turn up conversation about, you know, actual mission drift. Of the organizational variety.
As of June 5, however, we’ve witnessed a complete and utter hashtag takeover by our audiences at the National Theatre Shed, with overwhelmingly positive (and often profanely so) comments about the show. Here’s a collection of some of our favorites thus far (in truth, they all make us blush):
In June 2013, the TEAM took Mission Drift across the pond to The Shed, the National Theatre’s temporary theatrical space on the South Bank in London, where it was met with great enthusiasm and positive reviews. Check out what the London press had to say about Mission Drift and the TEAM:
“A theatrical tornado, and a sideways glimpse into America’s tarnished, weary soul.”
The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner also gave us this fantastic tweet immediately after the performance
Mission Drift @NationalTheatre is a thing of fierce skittering beauty, skewering capitalist expansion through story of desert mirage. #stage
“It’s thrilling, it’s explosive, it burns with the heat of flashing neon and sun-soaked desert sand.This is unapologetically exciting theatre.”
“American capitalism really is a mindfuck of a subject, and if you’re going to attempt to address its entire history in a couple of hours then you really need a mindfuck of a play…Mission Drift is a whirlwind of song and sound and surreal vignettes that conveys the dizzying mania of America’s rise with an energy that’s part sickening, part exhilarating.”
Time Out London
“Intelligent or indulgent, bold or bewildering? It’s probably all of them at times. The dizzying theatrical bravura of the piece, however, keeps you fascinated and on edge throughout.”
Mark Shenton, The Stage
A “ mesmerizing drift through the legend of the American ‘frontier’.”
“A raunchy roster of songs that twist and subvert the diamante-studded Vegas vibe.”
“A riotous and wickedly enjoyable fable of the creation and destruction of the American Dream in Las Vegas.”
What’s On Stage
“Mission Drift gets under the skin of American capitalism, while dazzling with its expansive ambition. With this pulsing piece the TEAM has given the capital its most politically potent musical since London Road.”
National Theatre Review
“This is fiercely intelligent stuff.”
During the final week of the Mission Drift run in New York City, Heather Christian and I went over to the NPR Studios. We were both extremely excited, but Heather can testify to the fact that my face almost shattered I was so giddy. With eyes wide we followed Margot Adler as she gave us a tour of the studio. Almost everyone was out to lunch, but it didn’t matter. I saw the desk of Robert Krulwich. And we even waved at Zoe Chace and Chana Joffe-Walt from Planet Money.
We sat down with Margot and discussed the work, which she’d seen previously.
CLICK HERE to listen to the awesome story that she put together.
Here we are, a little past the halfway point of our 4-week NYC run. If you haven’t seen the show yet, or are wondering what your opinion of the show should be, here’s a roundup of some of the things that have been written about Mission Drift so far in the New York City press:
Of all of the art inspired by the global economic crisis, perhaps none is as lusty and energetic as Mission Drift, the new musical by New York theater company the TEAM.
Drifting Into American Myth, The Wall Street Journal
Mission Drift…succeeds in staging a staggeringly ambitious saga. The liveliest lesson on desire, destruction, and economics that you’ll see in many a year.
The Village Voice
There’s a lot about the company’s new project to take heedless, heady pleasure in… Pleasures aplenty.
The New York Times
Mission Drift examines heady concepts without ever losing its heart. Thanks to strong writing and powerful performances, the TEAM never forgets to have empathy for their subjects… Mission Drift captures the zeitgeist while daring to suggest hope for the future.
An example of a theatre company at their most muscular, tackling what theatre should be tackling… to the hauntingly remarkable musical atmosphere of Heather Christian.
Exactly what I want the theatre to do to me: take me someplace I don’t know how to get to on my own.
New York Theatre Review
And a great little piece about the trials and tribulations during the genesis of Mission Drift in the New York Observer: After Three Years at Sea, the TEAM Drifts Home
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a fast and furious, crowded and amazing haboob of theatre and live performance of all varieties. There are, literally, 2,500 acts ranging from stand-up comedy to modern dance, bagpipe rock groups to sword swallowers. And of course, theatre ranging from highly compelling nearly wordless solo shows to (several) productions of Nunsense The Musical to Shakespeare and everything in between.
For the casual Fringe attendee, it can be daunting. More than likely, it feels, the show with the catchy title and interesting postcard graphics that you’re considering seeing this afternoon because they’re aggressively papering the house in an effort to convince reviewers that it is already popular and well liked so get on the right side of history–is going to be a painful way to spend a seemingly endless hour and ten minutes. But there are gems out there. You know there are. You have friends who have seen them. Or you’ve heard about them in the international press, or perhaps even caught one in it’s post-Fringe afterlife courtesy of a gem-hunting theatre producer. But where are they? They could be anywhere.
And thus there arose such a demand for reviews and other wheat-from-chaff sorting mechanisms that a reasonably well covered show running the duration of the festival might walk away from Edinburgh with a dozen or two published opinions of their hard work. Because there are in fact dozens of organizations, newspapers, magazines, websites, bloggers, leaflets, etc., who are in the business of trying to help a choice-weary public fill their afternoons with fringe fair. But now, of course, instead of having 2,500 shows to choose from, the casual observer may have 10,000 reviews to sort through. If only there was some further level of filtration, some triple-distilled extra-smooth way of learning what, at the end of the doggone day, is worth seeing…
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me, your humble TEAM blog, to be of service:
Mission Drift review in London’s Daily Telegraph
Mission Drift review in London’s The Guardian
Mission Drift review in Scotland’s (Glasgow’s) The Herald (MD starts five paragraphs down)
If you are hungry for more reviews of Mission Drift or other Fringe fare, the printing presses and the internets are your oysters. More postings and filtrations will live here as they come in, and of course there is always the “Press” section of this very website with a perhaps more complete list of things people have written.
When we were in Las Vegas last summer, Libby and I conducted a short series of interviews – with each other – about our experiences there. The idea was to do this periodically so that we could have a running commentary of the evolution of our impressions over the month that we were there. And also to upload them to the internet in some form so that people could track our tomfoolery along with us. In listening to them now, a few salient points emerge:
- We don’t really know what a podcast is.
- Podcasts are fun. We will need to do more of these.
- Both of us, separately and on different days, ate corn dogs.
And with no further ado, please enjoy the first three TEAM podcasts!
Brian interviews Libby, Las Vegas, early June 2010
Libby interviews Brian, Las Vegas, early June 2010
Libby and Brian at the Grand Canyon
I have had many firsts working with the group of misfits commonly known as The TEAM. I broke another person’s bone for the first time in a TEAM rehearsal. I performed as a professional actor on an international stage for the first time with The TEAM. And then we went to Las Vegas for a month together and I conquered a number of personal firsts including: my first visit to Las Vegas!, my first trip to a casino, my first time gambling for higher stakes than nickel-ante kitchen table poker, my first (and only) can of FourLoko, my first non-ironic uttering of “it’s hot, but it’s a dry heat”, and my first visit to a strip club (The Library, it was called. It contained shockingly few librarians sexy or otherwise), as well as a few other firsts that I shan’t mention here due to the limits of propriety/legality.
And now as promised, here is the Sardine Post: the photo- and video-documented experience of a boy who grew up 18 years landlocked sampling his first ever tin of sardines.
Given the stakes of this adventure, I knew it was important to give myself every advantage. The sardines were purchased at a sardine specialty shop in what appears to be the sardine capital of the world—Lisbon, Portugal.
Sardines! Octopus! Tuna! Mussels! All in tins and ready to eat!
After exploring the various styles of tinned sardines – smoked!; with lemon!; with tomato!; with spicy tomato! – I decided on a pack of whole sardines nestled in good old dependable olive oil. Once purchased, the guardians of sardine culture carefully wrapped my new prize in a lovely themed paper and tied it off with a bow. They did this not because a gift, but as if to suggest that any opportunity to enjoy sardines or other ugly tinned aquatic life was in itself a gift, an occasion to be celebrated by eating some sardines.
Libby also had some knowledge to lend, a recent initiate into the world of sardine enjoyment herself. On the big day, she assembled for me all the necessary accoutrements – freshly sliced bread, a metric ton of lemon slices for squeezing atop the slimy bastards, and a small pile of sea salt in case there wasn’t enough ocean left in their fishy little bodies.
Sardines in their native habitat, a gift-wrapped tin.
The result? Aside from one mid-chew surprise, thumbs up all around. But don’t take my word for it from the calm, cold light of the day after. Please enjoy this new and improved video, artfully shot and sound mixed by Mikaal Sulaiman, in the living room of our flat in Edinburgh.
Sardines! w/ music! from Brian Hastert on Vimeo.
One of the observations commonly made about the TEAM’s work is that there are a lot of ideas at play in our plays. A review of Mission Drift in Portugal’s Público called it “an intelligent, urgent, cerebral show”, which suits us just fine! After all, the mission of the company is to ‘dissect and celebrate the experience of living in America today’, and that experience is, as any waking American might tell you, a complex one. The job we are attempting to do is take what can seem like an inchoate mass of theoretical, historical, and editorial ideas, wrap our arms around them, root them in the hearts and pursuits of humans, add a dash or three of pizzazz for the stage and make it a play.
This is a post about the first part of the process (although it continues throughout, to be sure). For any TEAM project, once we have selected the larger intellectual/experiential sphere in which we’ll be partying for the next 1-3 years of development (i.e., “What’s the deal with American-style capitalism?”), we put ourselves through a kind of immersion therapy in and around that subject. So for Mission Drift we essentially had two arenas ripe for research: Economics and Westerns. We read classic texts of economic theories, we organized lectures on the finer points of the mortgage-backed securities crisis, watched documentaries about corporate influence and malfeasance, and listened to hundreds of hours of economics podcasts. And on the other hand we watched westerns! And read them. And read books about them. And histories of The West. And theories about the mythological underpinnings inherent in stories of “The West”. And so on. The shared bibliography of influences for Mission Drift contains dozens and dozens of essays, articles, books, and movies consumed by one, some, or all of us.
I know the classic axiom of writing is “write what you know”. And I get that I think. But for me half the fun of writing new theatre in this way is to tackle something truly huge and perhaps unknowable, learn as much as I can along the way, and then wrestle with what we find.
How much of what we read, watch, or otherwise absorb winds up in our play? Hmm, hard to say. The slightly cheeky answer is all of it, right? It’s all in there somewhere, in the bones of the people directing, designing, and performing. Can I point to the lines that were inspired by Cormac McCarthy or Adam Smith? Surprisingly sometimes yes, for instance the moment where Catalina renames Joris “The Wealth of Nations” is probably in some distant way related to Adam Smith, but a lot of times it’s just about giving us the confidence to weave a tighter dramatic fabric, and when we come across a tear know that there’s a lot more material around to look to.
And here’s a collage of a small number of titles from that bibliography that took an embarrassingly long time to photoshop together.
I suppose they call it a MegaBus because it’s allowing me to sit in a seat on it’s second story, laptop on my lap (plugged in and charging!), and connected to the internet so that I can write a blog posting. If that’s not Mega, then I assume there’s some other bus out there with a self-cleaning, heated-seat, solid gold toilet and if there is I look forward to pooping in it. Until then, this excellent MegaBus will serve as Libby, Rachel, Mikaal, Heather, Amber and I travel to Boston to join the rest of the Mission Drift team who made the trip yesterday – and prepare to tech and preview the show at Emerson University. We have spent the past three weeks and several hundred draft pages at our home space in Crown Heights chiseling the dialogue, crafting the scenes, dancing the dances and singing and re-singing the sweet, sweet songs. Tomorrow morning we will arrive on the set that the excellent folks at Emerson have built for us, and we will start to let the pretty pink snow fall. Then after our extra special one-night-only preview performance next week, we will pack the set up and slowboat it across the Atlantic so it will be there for us when we start our European tour in July.
The creation and gestation of Mission Drift has been a long and interesting one. Creating a play about capitalism and the American appetite during these particular years has left us no shortage of fascinating and pertinent real life stories to examine and bewildering research to pour through. This process has had its ups and downs for me, for us all, but when we finished our final run through of the show in Crown Heights last night before hitting the road today, I felt a kind of total-body inspiration from the experience and awe at my insanely talented collaborators. As I walked through Brooklyn, a matter of blocks from where Libby’s and my characters, Joris and Catalina Rapalje, lived 400 years ago, I had a feeling like we might really have hit something special here. And as I ride a MegaBus from the tip of New Amsterdam to the heart of New England, I am so grateful to be putting on a play that seeks to tell a story of America.
– B Hastert