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Underneath the Lintel

a One Man Show
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Glen Berger

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4120

SHOWING : September 15, 2011 - October 02, 2001

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

A quirky Dutch librarian turns into a globe-trotting detective when he becomes obsessed about a book, 113 years overdue. Driven by his burning curiosity, he sets out on a mysterious adventure, which leads him to an almost forgotten participant in The Crucifixion.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Jay Freer
The Librarian Steve Coulter
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REVIEWS

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Sublime (If Ephemeral)
by Dedalus
Friday, October 28, 2011
5.0
There are three facts I’d like you to consider. First, the Universe is big. REALLY big. Incomprehensibly big. There are billions of stars in every galaxy and billions of galaxies in just the small corner of existence we can witness. Second, the earth is old. REALLY old. Incomprehensibly old. If the entire history of the earth could be expressed as a long and echoing hallway, the entirety of human existence would be a hair-sized sliver at the far end. Third, a hundred years from now, most of us will be dead. Heck, a hundred minutes from now, SOME of us may be dead. Our lives are short. REALLY short. Incomprehensibly short.

Now that I’ve put these ideas out there, I have to ask – does this make the triviality and minutiae of day-to-day life incredibly pointless, or does it make even ephemeral whims and pleasures incredibly meaningful? How you answer that question should speak volumes about your character and about how you deal with the struggles large and small that are racing towards you like a runaway train.

So, let me talk about “Underneath the Lintel,” the marvelous monologue written by Glen Berger and performed by Steve Coulter. As proof of the ephemeral nature of live theatre, the play has closed, and all that is left are the tiny evidences that it was here, torn tickets, dog-eared programs, borrowed props seeking their home, lights and sets being recycled for “what comes next.”

In this play we meet a frowsy and dusty Dutch librarian. A late book return (113 years overdue, in fact), sends this minor bureaucrat on a globe-trotting scavenger hunt, searching for the mythical “wandering Jew,” finding little evidences of a myth come to life (“I know he’s a myth. But I now have the myth’s trousers!”). Along the way, he absorbs the whimsical cruelties of mankind and of history – six million exterminated by a holocaust become equal to one woman killed by a block of frozen urine from a passing jet liner. Civilizations falling become equal to the klink-klank-klatter of a Klezmer tune. He has rented the Aurora black box theatre to present his case and to show us his evidences.

And still the quest continues. I really have nothing more to say (other than volumes of praise for the work of Mr. Coulter who makes this character a casebook of mannerisms and neuroses and sudden realizations, a public speaker who is afraid of the public, a man who finds a core of belief rises from the ashes of mere acceptance.

Eight years ago, Actors Theater of Atlanta (gone but not forgotten – yet), staged this same play with this same actor. Let me just cut and paste (with a few revisions) what I wrote at that time:

I offer the following incidental intelligences as evidences of the parity of ephemera and profundity (if you have to ask, you should look them up) as inspired by a viewing of “Underneath the Lintel”:

# 1. If you must walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.

# 2. Theatre is an examination of all that is human. Great theatre differs from bad theatre only in that it shows humankind rather than actorkind.

#3 “Ships are safe inside a harbor, but is that what ships are for?” (Lyric heard on a “Four Bitchin’ Babes" Cassette).

#4 “The Universe is incomprehensibly large, History is incomprehensibly long, Death is incomprehensibly inevitable.” (Paraphrase of three questions inspiring the writing of “Underneath the Lintel” as described by Glen Berger in the afterword of the published edition of the play, shamelessly plagiarized in my opening paragraph above).

#5 To be utterly human is to use ephemera to shout to the cosmos I WAS HERE!

#6 Actors Theatre of Atlanta staged “Underneath the Lintel” in a production that displayed the best acting, writing, and direction I had seen in months. Every choice made by actor Steve Coulter was inspired, every word penned by writer Glen Berger sang (and still sings). The play worked as entertainment, as mystery, as philosophy, as art. And yet, it was poorly attended -- more evidence of the irony of the ephemera/profundity paradox. The Aurora production is every bit as memorable, and can even be called a bit of evidence that there once was a company called “Actors Theatre of Atlanta.”

#7 A theatre blog such as this may be ephemera, but it is my only dance – it is safer to remain anonymous (“underneath the lintel,” as it were) – but to do so is to belittle the importance of the dance. Rather than shout to the cosmos, my day job whines to the middle manager. Lighting my daughter’s play and washing my family’s laundry are higher in the grand scheme of importance (another paraphrase from Mr. Berger’s afterword).

#8 Theatre is by nature ephemeral – it bursts forth in an agony of creation, it floats for a moment in the souls of the audience, and it is forever lost. Is there a more profound dance in the face of the eternal?

#9 Since the ATA production in 2003, blogs and on-line presences have proliferated with the speed and volume of the billions of bacteria that populate the human gut (more than the total number of species homo that have walked the earth since we diverged from the apes). Every one of them screams to the universe “I AM HERE!” A hundred years from now, how many will be remembered?

#10 If you must walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com) I WAS HERE!


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