Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jason Grote's "1001" @ UCSD, Georgetown & in Print

Both Jason Grote's 1001 and Mary Zimmerman's stage version of the Nights are enjoying extensions at the various US theaters they have been playing at.

Jason Grote's play, which I was fortunate enough to both read pre-publication and see here at UCSD last year, is a humorous, fast-paced post-post-pre-modernistic take on the Nights which I found compelling and refreshing. One of the few "versions" of the Nights to go for what Pasolini calls the "flower" of the Nights, its essence vs. its literal (ultimately false) self.

Grote places the settings of the Nights in contemporary and past settings, meshing time in such a concatenated fashion that you are never really sure exactly what year it is. The stories from the Nights include the frame story and suggestions to several others but also veer off into contemporary US (and "Arab") political and cultural landscapes including 9/11 with a guest spot by Osama bin Laden and a problematic college love affair between a Jewish student from New York and a Palestinian student with roots in Kuwait.

The UCSD version I saw featured a great looking set in a small (100-person) space (see the label "grote" on this blog for more info about the production) and also some great music played by a visible "club" type of DJ standing on some scaffolding.

The scaffolding allowed for a dual level effect which worked well in certain scenes in which the stories meshed or a tower or apartment building was needed and the various entrances and exits of the theater allowed for seamless scene changes during brief blackouts. I also enjoyed the smallness of the theater, it's always a bit surprising to watch a play because of the immediacy of the actors to your own physical body and both the UCSD production and Grote's writing utilize the effect of being an actual participant in the play itself (without anyone calling on you to dance or anything chessy like that). There was even smoking! Is the theater the last place people can smoke cigarettes anymore?

All in all it was and is a great reproduction of the key elements of the Nights.

If you haven't you should buy a copy of the play affordable and available from the very well known theater publisher Samuel French here:

The latest incarnation of 1001 is still running at The Rorschach Theatre in Washington DC. (

and they made a cool preview/trailer for it available on youtube:

Here's an interview with the director Randy Baker as well:

1 comment:

  1. Go, Jason! Love this play and hope it gets 1001 productions.