Greetings, people of the internet! Sorry to distract you from your consumption of Amazon Prime, memes, and funny videos of animals close-up with a wide-angle lens. (And fear not! I promise to include a TL;DR for those of you who are far too busy, and can’t bother to read the entirety of this post.)
My name is Michelle – one of your friendly ensemble members from the cast of CDT’s “Consumed”! Before I begin rambling on about how our rehearsal structures and main showcase motivators were, I’d like to take a brief moment to give a shout out to my fellow spectacular cast mates. This is such a brilliant group of movers and shakers, and every one really had an integral part to the creation of this showcase. I have so much love, and respect for all of you ~ thanks for the wild ride these past couple of months!
The idea behind “Consumed”, as chirped by the previous blog posts, revolves around the idea of society’s obsession with consumption – be that of material goods, food, politics, news, or what have you. And honestly, what a better time to create something of substance than when our time period is at its most volatile? Whether you’re right, left, red, green or blue, these past few months have been absolutely twisted. I have seen friendships deteriorate, and family tensions rise just because of our current affairs… So, what about you, common internet stranger? Has your family dynamic changed due to the current political atmosphere? Have you lost friends? Has your view of the ones you love changed? My heart breaks for you, really. And yet, we all know in our gut that this is nothing new. Why are we having such a hard time accepting our differences? Everyone is so self-involved, worrying about their own damn survival, that sometimes simple things such as human empathy are overlooked. We worked a lot with this dynamic in the early stages of Consumed – creating characters based off of people we knew, people we despised, people we love(d). We have characters that mimic Fathers, Mothers, young college graduates, religious figures, the elderly/older generation, the youth, workaholics… I bet you know someone who fits in each of those character groups. Which one do you identify the most with? Maybe a combo of a few~? How would you describe yourself, truly.
So right around Election Day, I watched an old interview back from 2000 featuring David Bowie discussing the internet with BBC journalist Jeremy Paxman. Bowie quips, “I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating, and terrifying.” And you know what, he was right – the internet, particularly social media, is becoming such a HUGE part of our society. Having a Facebook is the norm, and if you don’t have one, there’s something wrong with you. I bet you have a Facebook, don’t you? What about Twitter? Instagram? Which one do you use the most, and why? What ads are displayed throughout your feed? Have you noticed how your friends, or even internet strangers act when they’re on social media? Have you ever “unfriended” someone because of the way they’ve acted/posted? Goddamn. Everyone, and everything, is just turning in to an insane hyperbole of themselves. Articulation, and genuine debate are a rarity; it seems to always be a “me versus you” type scenario, where everyone is wrong, and you are always right. All news is fake (unless, of course, it’s the article you’ve read and shared). Apathy is trumping empathy. How is this happening? Is being “right” better than being understanding? I bet you’ve gotten yourself in to an internet debate once or twice. How did it end? Are you proud of how you conducted yourself? Are all the words you type to someone on the internet, the same words you would say in person, face to face…?
There are so many unimportant things that distract us from our own realities; social media, television, clothing, food, booze, commercials/marketing, etc. Everyone has a crutch. So, do you know yours? What do you actively consume often, that you know you would be better off without? Are any of these distractions keeping you from genuine human connection? Do you know why you do it? Would you be able to disconnect from everyone, everything, for just a day, to sit with your own thoughts? Are you really just afraid to be vulnerable for once?
And with that said, I leave you with this; “We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities; we are eaten up by nothing.” ― Charles Bukowski
TL;DR: Don’t let the internet form, or influence your identity. Be your best self. Love others. Accept the beauty of difference. Find parts of yourself in others. And hey, disconnect from social media for a bit, yeah? See you at the show!
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” — Unknown.
We all know about the stereotype that our generation is addicted to technology. Duh. The choice is now- how, when, where and what to consume? Or not to consume at all?
Let me start by saying within the last 7 years my fears did a complete 180. It is no longer the monster under the bed that gives me the heebie jeebies, nor the zombies, werewolves, or vampires. The shift occurred when fear- which was originally wild imagination- turned into present reality. Fear is now sitting next to me on the train, inserting the supposedly safer ‘chip’ into the credit card machine, and every single one of the people running for a political position. This fear is both exaggerated and masked by the consumption of technology in all its double-edged glory.
When discussing technology, we often focus optimistically on all the things it does for us. But I want to show you where it might do the opposite.
Where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses?
The people building technology start by looking for blind spots, edges, vulnerabilities, and limits of people’s perception so they can influence what people do without them even realizing it. Once you know how to push people’s buttons, you can play them like a piano. Technology plays on our psychological vulnerabilities (consciously and unconsciously) against us and for us in the race to grab our attention.
I grew up in Western Culture, but have had amazing opportunities to live and travel outside of it. By experiencing both the inside and outside perspective, it seems to me America is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defending our right to make “free” choices, while we ignore how those choices are manipulated upstream by decisions we didn’t choose in the first place. If you have never seen “The Wizard of Oz” I suggest today is a great day to see it.
Fear is an important aspect of technology that has affected us in ways we cannot even comprehend yet. Technology keeps us “friended”, swiping faces, and subscribed because of that little but poignant fear of missing something important. If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities — it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — because (aha, I win) you might miss something important. Yet when we zoom into that fear, we’ll discover that it’s unbounded: we’ll always miss something at any point when we stop using something. However, once we let go of that fear by actively unplugging, we wake up from the illusion and that fear no longer has its claws in us.
The fact of the matter is that technology, especially social media, is temporary; as is everything that exists and is posted on them. If they cease to exist, and we have no raw backups, we will have lost all of our memories and are only left with the things we remember in our mind that are often distorted or are erased after a period of time. While it is without a doubt both innovative and progressive that technology has come so far over the decades, we should do our best to not let it consume our lives. We cannot let it invoke fear causing us to miss out on special moments and not fully experience occasions for what they are because a phone is stuck in our face. Unplug from fear!
We all know about the stereotype that our generation is addicted to technology. So I ask you, how, when, where and what do you consume? Or not to consume at all? Are you consciously choosing to consume or are you a part of the stereotype?
Consumed has been, more than anything, a huge lesson in collaboration for me. We’ve been workshopping this thing since… what, September? Something like that. In that time, the show has taken on so many shapes and focused on an array of themes as we searched for the core of our mission in creating this beast. It’s been a challenge to grow attached to an idea only to ultimately bag it in service of the overarching message of the show. By the time the whole ensemble was formed in December, we decided to limit our storylines to perspectives that we had personal experience with, in an attempt to preserve honesty. Since that point, the intent of the show suddenly gained immeasurable clarity (and we all exhaled a giant sigh of relief).
This decision came at around the same time that I found myself sort of growing into the role of production manager. The matter was never really discussed. Sara and I had just been holding conceptual meetings together for several months, and my questions/curiosity consistently gravitated more towards the production side of the piece. Whether that stemmed from my insecurities as a dancer, having been largely out of the dance world for a good decade, or more from my eagerness to “MAKE IT PRETTY,” I really can’t say. It all happened very organically, and before we knew it, we had David Goodman-Edberg on lights, Andy Berlin on board to work projections and Andrew Stefano set to score the production. Sara made sure that all of my worries of stepping on her toes as director were quickly squashed. If you know Sara, you know that she’s a workhorse, and she WILL get everything done single-handedly, even if it kills her. But that’s not how this experience needed to go.
This has truly been a collaborative ensemble experience, by design. Sara’s initial vision was broad and all-encompassing, and her choreography develops largely from group devising, which is what makes Consumed so engaging to watch. You can see each of the ensemble’s unique voices shine through in different moments, with her direction steering your focus to balance the story. Meanwhile, our technical elements of film, light and sound also lend a hand in honing focus, in addition to developing its own powerful character that controls our movements on stage.
There has been a lot of push-pull and compromise in figuring this thing out, but now that we’re nearly a week away from showtime, I’m just excited to get to tech week so that we can move within all of the technical elements! It has developed into a piece that catches you off guard amidst its humorous relatability, by confronting the viewer with the task of dissecting the things we call problems in our day to day. Through its play with digital mediums, Consumed brings to light the conflict of how we too easily fall into line under the powers that judge importance and normality, and leaves us questioning what we would have left if that omnipotent power suddenly disappeared.