Interview with Catherine Hanna about “The City”

“The City” is an immersive performance experience that examines how New Yorkers connect and disconnect in the city.  The performance moves through realistic and symbolic theatrical scenes enhanced by film, dance, music poetry, beat-box, photography and design.
The Playbill Collector (TPC): Who created the concept?
Catherine Hanna (CH): Catherine Hanna and Jamie Roach
TPC: How many performers are there in the show?
CH: 4 Actors
1 Musician who also acts
2 other musicians playing live
3 dancers
10 performers total
Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 7.04.08 AMTPC: Your promo video talks a lot about connection with others in New York.  One of the lines states “courtesy really is contagious” which can sometimes be lacking in New York City.  “The City” has three primary “connection” themes.  What are they and how are they portrayed in the show?
CH: 1) social and relational dynamics
One example- the performance plays with casual communication phrases, like “How are you doing?”, which we use in society and often don’t mean authentically. Also, we play with subway etiquette, do’s and don’ts and the “rules” that we create and accept in our society of when to talk to each other, when not to, etc.. 
2) technology trends that hinder and enhance connectivity
Social media, communication devices and internet communication make-up a major character in the performance. There is an ongoing interplay between this “character” and the human characters in the show. This interplay seeks to engage the question, are we really becoming more connected as the dependence on technology grows?
3) the innate human longing for belonging. 
Throughout the piece this becomes clearer and clearer to the audience as they observe the journey of the characters and as they (the audience) have the opportunity to connect with the other audience members in the space. Perhaps in some way, this is the ultimate and culminating theme of the piece.
We hope that through adding humor and play to these topics that we can start a new conversation that allows people to question how we relate with one another and why we make these choices. All along the audience is not merely watching us engage with these topics as spectators, but they are playing along with us in the interactive elements that we have infused throughout the piece. Ideally, we can all walk away questioning assumptions of how we should relate as New Yorkers.
TPC: What is different about your show that should get people excited to see it?
CH: “The City” is unique in several ways. It tells a story through abstract and realistic scenes and through imagination and the absurd. It also uses varies artistic forms- film, live and original music, photography, theatrical dance, beatbox and poetry. It also engages the audience through safe and playful interactions. All of this brings it an almost dream-like quality…perhaps a dream that the audience can begin to imagine for gaining more authentic connections for fellow human beings. We also think that our audience members will have a lot of fun!
TPC: Where does the show take place and what’s the run time?
CH: Run time approximately 2 hours, 357 W. 36th Street (Between 8 & 9th Avenues) New York, NY
For more information please visit: http://aliveworldwide.org/
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