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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Writing’s on the Wall

Hanging sandbags and TV screens are just a part of what makes up the strange and dream-like world of End Times, where every important decision is centered on a red drum.

The theatre and dance department’s #5 The Angry Red Drum opens tomorrow at 8 p.m. at the Main Theatre, and runs until Dec. 6. Tickets are $16 general admission and $11 with a student ID. Tickets can be purchased online at theatredance.ucdavis.edu.

It is an abstract play which tells the story of two strangers who find each other within a post-apocalyptic world and upon meeting other characters, manage to piece together their forgotten pasts.

The play was written and directed by Granada Artist-in-Residence Philip Kan Gotanda, who is internationally acclaimed for his influential work in bringing stories of Asians in the U.S. to mainstream American theatre.

The title of #5 The Angry Red Drum refers to the fifth installation in what Gotanda refers to as hisGarage Band Series” –plays that were inspired by Red Rum Burger in downtown Davis.

Gotanda said the play wasinspired by [his] frustration with the Bush administration, the wars going on and the way I felt their particular group was basically ripping off the American public.

He worked intensively with the cast of the play to collectively discover the best way to present the story.

“The cast has been up for the journey and has been able to try different things,Gotanda said.

First-year dramatic arts major Michael Lutheran, who portrays the character of Truman in the show, said working with Gotanda has been valuable and helpful. He said that the playwright has been immediately available to help the actors better understand and develop their characters.

Junior dramatic arts and psychology major Jazz Trise plays the role of Backwards Soldier, a character who clearly comments on the destructive effects of war. He said that the themes of the play would resonate with the audience.

“[The play] is relevant to our time and the wars and economic troubles we’ve been having,Trise said.

In addition to touching on wider social issues, the play delves into intrapersonal obstacles. For example, Gotanda used the development between one character, Pick, and another character, Gorom, as a metaphor for the way people evolve into adulthood.

Dealing with the abstract material of the play was a learning experience for some of the cast members. Junior dramatic arts and psychology major Bryan Marcus Pham, who plays the role of Pick, said he has never worked with such challenging material like that of #5 The Angry Red Drum, but that he found it to be incredibly rewarding and meaningful.

With its highly stylized choreography and use of props, stage and sound design also play a big role within the play. Atypical of most onstage productions, the play required dramatic arts graduate student Dylan Bowls, the sound designer, to perform all the sounds within the show live.

“Both the movement and the sound play important characters in the storytelling and the look of the play, more so than a traditional narrative,Gotanda said.

The play’s quick movement between emotional states was a challenge Bowls said he had to face. However, this complexity ultimately helped fuel his inspiration for designing the sound within the show.

“Cruelty, love, anger, insecurity, hope [and] betrayal all occursometimes right next to each other,Bowls said.

Gotanda said he hopes that the audience will be stimulated as a result of this collaboration of music, choreography, set design and text.

“[I hope] their minds will travel places they wouldn’t normally travel and see some things from a vantage point they wouldn’t have seen and just be entertained,he said.This is one small moment in people’s lives and if I can in that one small moment add a particular idea or a different way to look at something, then that’s good.

JULIA McCANDLESS can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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