.d0t :: a RotoPlastic Ballet
- Lighting Designer
Pointless Theatre Company
Performed at Mead Theatre Lab
Apr 7 - May 6, 2017
Original story by Navid Azeez, Aaron Bliden, Patti Kalil and Matt Reckeweg
Inspired by the work of Fortunato Depero
Production Stage Manager:
Asst. Stage Manager:
Becca Ballinger, Frank Cevarich, Madeline Key, Sydney Lo, Sadie Leigh Rothman, Matthew Sparacino, Matthew Strote, Scott Whalen, Claire Aniela, Sarah Wilby
Navid Azeez, Nick Wilby, Mike Winch
Voice of 0live:
DJ Corey Photography
Their newest, the eccentrically punctuated “.D0t:: a RotoPlastic Ballet,” is a trippy mash-up of hip-hop, sci-fi and the designs of the Italian artist of futurism, Fortunato Depero.
Under Matt Reckeweg’s witty direction, Patti Kalil’s puppets — bots, trucks, whole factories — whiz by, piecing together for us a playful mosaic of Depero’s vision, joyously and endearingly updated.
In the meantime, you can see Pointless at its best, orchestrating the design and technical elements of “.D0t” with impressive precision
- Peter Marks
If you've ever dreamed of seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda collaborate with Daft Punk, Pointless Theatre's .d0t:: A ROTOPLASTIC BALLET may be the closest you'll get.
On entering the intimate performance space, it's clear .d0t will be immersive. ... We're soon plunged into a vision of the future, aided by top-notch lighting (E-hui Woo) and stylish projections (Lauren Joy).
We've seen enough human vs. machine material to know how things might go, but this gem of a production achieves the near-impossible task of presenting the concept in a new and interesting light, combining elements of the familiar in an original and unexpected way. .d0t is unlike anything I've seen in the DC area in recent memory, and I'm unlikely to forget it.
- Barbara Johnson
With puppetry, projection, lighting, and video timed perfectly to a live, original, nerdcore rap score, .d0t:: a RotoPlastic Ballet runs like clockwork, even as it tells the stories of machines destroying the perfect System.
It takes eight puppeteers to play the rest of NAVI’s subjects, and they earn the right to call this show a ballet. In the opening number, the show bursts to life with lighting, projections, video, and, of course, puppets that dazzle with their intricate interplay.
Pointless Theatre’s 99-year-old reboot gets right to the matter at hand: A story whose topic and telling are undeniably now.
- Marshall Bradshaw
Known for its ability to shatter conventional boundaries between puppetry and other performing arts, Pointless has used a mixture of puppetry, acting, and a live original hip-hop score to craft an entirely new way to tell a story about what the future could hold.
Written by Azeez, Aaron Bliden, Patti Kalil, and Director/Set Designer Matt Reckeweg, the play is a fusion of music, traditional acting, puppetry, and visual art.
Designer Patti Kalil draws from English toy theatre puppetry, representing the factories, houses, and robot denizens as two-dimensional cardboard puppets that move across three levels of flat background. Inspired by Futurist painter Fortunato Depero, the colorful flatness of the puppets and set pieces perfectly represents the neat functionality of this world. Aided by Lauren Joy’s striking projection design that seamlessly meshes with the cardboard set elements, lights by E-hui Woo, costumes by Frank Labovitz, and sound by Mike Winch, the visuals become a powerful medium for telling this story.
- Julia Hurley
The city is the artificial intelligence’s body, and the last human has been kept alive because of the pulse. This thud keeps the city moving, and they need a human to provide it.
“I think it speaks to the idea of how universal the idea of post-human, or end of humanity, is,” Reckeweg says. “It’s a topic that so many mediums and artists have been inspired and compelled by to make something.”
“It’s an allegory for how authority responds to social change,” Reckeweg says. “At the end, this last human is left with not knowing if there is room for him in this new world.”
As for Pointless Theatre as a whole, the company is simply continuing their mission to make cardboard as rad as possible.
Azeez’ lyrics are smart— listen carefully and closely. Take note of what’s being said. You’ll get the bigger picture in a hurry, if you’re not too distracted by the wondrous wonders that the design team has crafted all around the intimate little puppet box stage. The aforementioned Mike Winch teams up with Nick Wilby, guised in futuristic space suits, and serves as the live onstage band, enhancing and augmenting Winch’s galaxy-laden compositions. As if the soundscape weren’t enough to sweep you away into this post-human-existence, the visuals are striking. Set Designer and Director Matt Reckeweg has put the white tiers of a proper puppet theatre into place so that Puppet Design Master Patti Kalil can work her magic. Illuminating this magic, Lighting Designer E-Hui Woo highlights all of the wild and zany things that await the audience once .dØt gets underway.
There is a dizzying disorientation between animated projections, designed by Projectionist Lauren Joy, and Kalil’s puppetry magnificence. Almost childlike and simultaneously from a world light years ahead of us, these hinged paper-like puppets are saturated with color and appear to move like Joy’s animations do. Or perhaps Joy’s animations move the way Kalil’s puppets do— it’s impossible to say. The hypnotic wonder of this performance is the off-balancing factor that could easily keep the audience from fully recognizing what’s happening as the story progresses through all eight musical movements.
- Amanda N. Gunther
From the zany minds behind Pointless Theatre comes another piece of theatre exploring our role as humans on our planet. Take science fiction, a bit of hip-hop, a splash of futuristic art, and some manic energy and you’ve got “d0t.”
It is a multilayered system as well which makes it feel a bit like one of those carnival games where you throw a ball to knock things over. The whimsy that this brought to the story of one man desperately trying to save what he knows is an interesting contrast, but a delightful one.
- Elle Marie Sullivan
.d0t:: a RotoPlastic Ballet is a brilliant fusion of past, present, and future.
Although it's highly entertaining .d0t is probably one of the most pessimistic plays Pointless has ever done. As always, the research behind it is astounding, not only with art-historical references but with the idea of singularity, a moment in the (probably near) future when AI will dwarf human intelligence and take over the inner workings of the world.
- Elena Goukassian