In 2010, when Rebecca Noon and Jed Hancock-Brainerd were struggling to get Strange Attractor Theatre Company off the ground, they both worked at the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island. Noon worked the front desk and Brainerd was a security guard in the gallery, on his feet for hours at a time and fighting boredom every minute of the day.
Strange Attractor’s latest play, “Enlightenment on E Floor North” — which debuts this weekend as part of the Fringe Festival — explores the petty hierarchies, flights of imagination and absurd rituals that emerge when people are forced to stand in one place for eight hours a day.
It’s a concept that fits perfectly into Attractor’s brand of physical group-created comedic theater.
“Security guards often have a reputation for being kind of odd, but we don’t feel like odd people become security guards, we feel like being a guard brings out your inner oddball,” says Noon. “It’s like being a clown: You put on the nose to discover who your clown is. You put on a blazer to discover your inner security guard.”
Across the country
Strange Attractor formed at the London International School of Performance. The five core members live in Philadelphia, Providence, and Juneau, Alaska. Rather than forcing each other to move to a particular city, the troupe has attempted to create work by visiting each other throughout the year. “Enlightenment on E Floor North” was largely developed in Alaska. Though Philadelphia is the site of official opening, many in-progress versions of the play have been performed in small cities and towns surrounding Juneau.
“Things that resonate with people are certainly different out there,” says Noon. “But I feel like with this show, you know, everybody everywhere seems to be able to relate to a really crappy job.”
‘Enlightenment on E Floor North’
The White Space at Crane Old School
1417 N. 2nd St.