Tickets for STRATA (a Bricolage production) just recently went on sale but the performance is already underway -- and has been for some time.
My first encounter with STRATA was through advertisement (which is typical). All over downtown Pittsburgh there are posters with no explanation. Pictures of people. Men and women from all age groups, toddler to grandfather, staring into the distance. Expressionless. They all wear "futuristic" white jump-suits and the posters read, "iConsciousness."
This was peculiar enough for me to get google-ing and figure out how these posters came to be. I came across the website for "STRATA; Pittsburgh's First Refitnessing Center" (ps. google refitnessing, it's not actually a word but you can infer the meaning). The fictitious company promises enlightenment and corrective treatment for happier living, a new take on consciousness -- iConsciousness.
The website gives you the options of scheduling an appointment (buying tickets) and watching testimonials like the one below.
Once you schedule an appointment you're asked to watch an informational video and complete a quick survey that asks some seemingly random questions. "If your life had a theme song, what would it be?" "How often do you get tired or sad?""What was the name of your elementary school mascot?" "Do you look at birds?" etc. This questions are said to help assess your refitnessing needs.
I'm both excited and nervous for Bricolage as they undergo this massive endeavor. Their work is looming in the shadows of Punchdrunk's infamous Sleep No More and seems remotely cliché at this point. The notion of the futuristic-emotionless-medicated-super-content-or-happy-human has been explored before in a variety of ways ranging from classic literary works to an episode of Dr. Who and super hero flicks have been questioning sentiment for a while now.
What's most exciting about this kind of work is that as an audience member I am already engaged and have been mulling over the ideas behind this performance for a while now. When I show up at location on August 2nd I will be more than prepared but actively seeking out why all of this preliminary work has been done.
The production is being staged in collaboration Riley Harmon and Clear Story. Both unique and respectable artists in their own ways and deserve an honorable mention in this undertaking.