Close this search box.

well established and here for you

independently owned and operated since 1977

The Sound of the Dark

by Steve Desroches

Ever since the Provincetown Players formed here in 1915, the Cape tip has been home to an ever changing and evolving showcase of a variety of genres of stage performance. The theatrical company run by George Cram “Jig” Cook and Susan Glaspell not only gave birth to modern American theater, but also sent out a call to others to come to Provincetown to take advantage of the unique culture here that encourages creativity. In some locales they call that a safe space, but here it’s anything but. Rather, it’s a wild and restless scene that not just supports, but demands that those who take to the stages of Provincetown push themselves, and in the process, the entire art form. The result has been a century and counting of performances on the edge.

Since its inception, the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival has tapped into that liberated energy, the very same cultural vigor that drew Williams here both as a playwright and gay man, bringing in some of the most compelling productions of both Williams’ work and others each late September. From utilizing nontraditional performance spaces to daring casting to even hosting a play entirely in Norwegian, the Festival is a sweet treat for those who revel in theatrical adventure. And perhaps the most daring vanguard at this year’s festival is the Philadelphia-based theater company EgoPo’s presentation of Company, an aural performance that takes theater to its experimental heights.

Based on the novella of the same name by Irish writer Samuel Beckett, this adaptation of Company is constructed as a “sensory drama,” as it focuses on the most salient aspects of the original story as well as the Festival’s exploration of the theme of “anticipation.” First published in 1979, the story in Company features a man lying on his back in the dark as he reflects on the nature of existence and his own life as Beckett explores consciousness and reality. Is this person dying, falling asleep, meditating? That’s not made clear, and in this revisioning by EgoPo (from the French for ‘the physical self’) each audience member becomes that character, and through the dialogue performed by the actors is guided on the same path of self-reflection. The key component of this performance is that as an audience member you are blindfolded the entire time as you lie on the floor of Town Hall, and the actors, 21 of them, use the large space to perform this piece that relies on hearing, and in some cases touch, to communicate the story.

“We wanted to make the work in the auditorium here topographical,” says Lane Savadore, artistic director of EgoPo Classic Theater. “We create the auditory topography of the space.”

Each performance is limited to 34 audience members, all of whom will be blindfolded before entering the performance space, whereupon they will lie down in a comfortable space prepared on the floor with blankets and pillows. The lines delivered by the actors may be shouted from the balcony or whispered right into your ear in this work of experimental theater. The origins of this piece go back to 1995 when EgoPo received a commission from the Berkeley, California, NPR affiliate to adapt this Beckett story as a radio show, thus the early reliance on creating dynamic sound. The radio performance was a big success, but Savadore and the cast members felt something was missing—that immediate connection with an audience. So they began to perform the piece in a San Francisco loft for friends. Word of mouth spread quickly, and soon they were doing the show twice a week. And then, unbeknownst to Savadore and the cast, one attendee was a journalist and wrote a review. After that the show really took off.

Samuel Beckett, author of Company, the novella.

Since those early days the show’s been done in New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, continuing to garner rave reviews for its daring and bold interpretation while also creating a comforting environment. Savadore knows that those who attend may feel incredibly vulnerable, not being able to see and being touched by people they don’t know. Audience members are, of course, free to leave any time they like, though over all the years they’ve done Company, only one person has ever done so, and that was to use the restroom, says Savadore.

Creating this different kind of theatrical communication also changes how the play is received by the brain. With one of the senses gone, the experience goes to a different level in this take on immersive and interactive theater. “There is a cognitive shift,” says Savadore. “It actually deepens the cognitive experience. The piece being done around you with sound and touch makes it all be received differently. You are much more present. It becomes a meditation.”

This marks the return of EgoPo to the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival after presenting Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape in 2016. It was at that Festival that Savadore met Marcel Meyer and Fred Abrahamse from Abrahamse and Meyer Productions, a theater company in Cape Town, South Africa, in town to perform their production of O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms. This reimagining set in colonial era South Africa, where a white British farmer brings home a Xhosa bride, wowed the Festival and now will be done in Philadelphia at EgoPo’s invitation at Drexel University the first weekend in October. Those kinds of artistic exchanges are exactly the hope of the Festival as it continues to grow in artistic prowess and influence. And now that Company is once again finding a new venue and platform Savadore hopes that their performance in Provincetown acts as a springboard to take it elsewhere.

“It will never go away,” says Savadore. “It keeps getting revived. Why not keep reviving it? It gets deeper and better each time we do it. We can’t wait to do it there.”

EgoPo Classic Theater’s production of Company will be at Town Hall, 260 Commercial St. for 15 performances Thursday, September 27 through Sunday, September 30. Tickets ($30), specific showtimes, and information are available at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival box office at 331 Commercial St. (during the festival only), or in advance, by calling 866.789.TENN (8366) Ext. 1, or online at Tickets are NOT available at the door.

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

Keep in touch

Fill in your details and I will get back to you in no time.

Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657