Time is an obsession in New York City, and maybe nowhere more than on Wall Street, where deals are made in nanoseconds. But there’s a sanctimonious trend that PopUp Theatrics director Ana Margineanu is looking to address.
“We hear so many times, ‘Live in the present,’ it’s the modern mantra,” she says. “But actually, the past has a lot of value because if you don’t own it, you have no identity. And the future has a lot of value as well, because without it you have no purpose.”
Bringing balance back to those “three dimensions of time,” as she puts it, is the aim of the group’s newest production, Broken City: Wall Street, the third in its series of stories assembled along a journey through a specific neighborhood. (Previously, they visited Harlem and the Lower East Side.) This time the focus is on how we define ourselves depending on the time we’re living in, told through a combination of a play, flash mobs and walking tour.
“Wall Street” is made up of three separate hour-long plays, taking place concurrently on the streets of Lower Manhattan, focusing on three people. One lives in the future, “and therefore she misses a lot of the present moments — like a lot of us a lot of the time,” Margineanu says. Another finds solace in the past because “the present feels mundane and boring to him, and the future feels like an unfulfilled promise. In the past, where everything is known already and you can tweak the memories, feels a safe place for him to be.” The third suffers from constant amnesia, so the present is all she has and “everything is fresh for her in every single moment.”
Prepare to get to know them all very well, along with the rest of the 25 actors putting on the three productions — the audiences for each performance are all tiny: six, three and even just one person. “We want to create a really big experience, and actually the smaller the audience, the easier it is for creators to have the maximum effect,” Margineanu explains.
The plays are not participatory, though the audience is encouraged to get as close to the performers as they want, even standing next to them: “It’s really like a movie happens around you, and you can be more or less a part of it.”
Each story includes “a lot of physical theater,” and two members of the London-based disabled performing arts troupe Signdance Collective will be featured: David Bower, who is deaf, is the character living in the past, and Isolte Avila, who uses sticks to help her walk. “They’ve found ways to transform their physical disadvantage into an incredible artistic wonder,” Margineanu says. “Isolte dances with her sticks, she flies with her sticks — and when I’m saying ‘flying,’ the metaphor is very small.”
Broken City: Wall Street
July 21-24, 5, 6, 7 p.m.
July 27-Aug. 1, 5, 6, 7 p.m.
Meet at 35 Cedar St.