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    An Order of Chaos

    In "An Order of Chaos," the audience orders the play. Freestyle Rep adds new meaning to "have it your way" with its newest production, which is set in a nice, upscale restaurant. The bistro is a framing device for a new type of long-form improvisation in which the audience orders a full-length play by the course and the performers act out the orders, no matter how wacky. It's Freestyle's latest brainstorm in the ongoing evolution of long-form improvisational theater. The well-known handicap of improvisation is that the job of storytelling burdens the actors with playwriting instead of acting. "Shaping the show in your mind can make the show presentational," says Artistic Director Laura Livingston, who oughta know, having directed long-form improvisations since 1982. The question she took on was, how to make an improvisational experience in which the actors can make a full-length play without writing it on the spot — so that they can remain in the role of actors, as they would in a conventional play. Thus sprang the notion of handing plot development over to the audience. But to do so begged the question of how. You can't order a play like you'd order dinner — or can you? Freestyle's solution was to cast Ms. Livingston as a Headwaiter who would solicit audience choices, as if picking an action and motivation for your character were like choosing a sauce and side dish for your cutlet. Is there a menu? Yes — there are some specials, but you're free to ask for anything off the top of your head. As the play rolls along, the gracious Headwaiter — off to the side — will ask the audience for motivations, previous circumstances, changes in location, choices of which characters should have scenes together, relationships, entrances and exits. The play will even be structured with exposition, complication, crisis, resolution and denouement corresponding to the courses of a dinner.

    Dates:  May 31, 2002 - June 16, 2002
    Schedule:  Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m.
    Venue:  Trilogy Theatre, 341 West 44th St
    Price:  $12
    Official site:  http://www.FreestyleRep.org
    Tickets/info:  (212) 206-1515


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