The spirit of communities can often be captured and conveyed through gatherings centered around theatrical communing. Much like agoras and church meetings (though often a bit more rowdy, to be certain), theatrical performances serve as a meeting place for members of unique communities, and a convergence area for perhaps otherwise disparate individuals. The Glitterbox Theatre, a creative dramaturgical space in the Blumcraft building in Oakland, much like the Prototype creative space/collaborative workshop, that seeks to foster not only a certain creative attitude but serves as a beacon of community expression.
On June 23rd, the Glitterbox hosted an evening of short plays as part of Pittsburgh’s Original Short Play Series that called upon and welcomed the talents of a myriad of diverse individuals. I tend to have a tenuous relationship with theatrical festivals—the energy and ardor tend to be very much in the right place to begin, but often the stamina or cohesiveness fail to hold throughout the plethora of short pieces. This short play series and the individuals responsible for putting them on, while relying on some tropes and safe pieces/safe performance techniques, were refreshingly revitalizing. Much of the success of the pieces and the evening overall was based upon the palpable, vivacious energy of the folks curating the space. The Glitterbox theater sits in a small, almost cove-like portion of the Blumcraft building, situated around the dark, intimate stage.
The audience and the individuals running the evening inhabited a sort of gritty yet welcoming, punk-rock yet drama nerd persona that permeated the room and created an enjoyable merging of eccentricities that redefined the space and the tenor of the evening. Perhaps the standout, and the most indicative of the distinct vibrancy of the evening, was the re-staging/re-envisioning of the classic tale of the writer visited by his snarky muses, Comedy and Tragedy, as he attempts to write the ultimate (ultimate meaning, of course, most profitable) play that captures either comedic or tragic spirit. As the vignette proceeds, the writer is conflicted with Comedy and Tragedy’s endless critiques on the authenticity of his material, his intent and his sentimentality—all while guests like writer’s doomed characters and Satan herself traipse in and out—until he is meets his “ultimate” fate. This is a short play I have seen restaged and reconceived countless times, and yet this version by Point Park students seemed new and electric, dripping with sardonic chutzpah that gave the piece a new twist. While the performances were spot on—Comedy and Tragedy being rapid-fire, superb hits—a great deal of the enjoyment and newness of the old classic was the imbedded queer take on the piece that resonated beautifully with the atmosphere and environment of the Glitterbox theater.
Glitterbox provides a marvelous creative space for talents and interest levels of all levels, and provides a rehearsal space as well as performance area. The space often doubles as a social-gathering spot for theatrical, community-minded folk and even allows for a self-defense workshop venues.