Synaesthetic Theatre Focuses Surveillance Scrutiny on Kafka and Josef K in a New Multimedia Play Noir, The Trial of K

Synaesthetic Theatre presents The Trial of K at the Culture Project @ 45 Bleecker, New York, NY, in the 45 Below Theatre. Limited Engagement: March 30th 每 April 9th, 2005. Performances: Wednesdays 每 Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM. $20. To purchase tickets, call 212-352-3101 or purchase online at Directed by Joy Leonard and Chris Nichols.

January 28, 2005 -- The Trial of K is a live multimedia Play Noir inspired by Franz Kafka's unfinished masterpiece, The Trial. The production blends physical theatre, dance, live streaming surveillance video, and original music with the visually intense genres of German Expressionism and classic Film Noir. Synaesthetic Theatre's new multidimensional dream-play pits a charmingly arrogant Josef K against a secretive and unforgiving Court of Law. Under the strain of constant surveillance, anti-hero Josef K (Margaret O'Sullivan) spirals from self-righteous indignation through fear and doubt towards an inevitable verdict, as author Kafka (Clinton Powell) documents K's descent. Unable to defend himself against the Court's unspecified charges, K's confidence is eroded through interactions with a surreal parade of characters 每 men and women drawn by the scent of his "guilt." Kafka provides insight and commentary as K fights a losing battle on unfamiliar ground 每 the hallucinatory territory of his own unexamined fantasies and fears.

Written in 1914, the meaning of Kafka's The Trial remains a topic of academic debate to this day. Opinions vary vastly depending on the critical source, from views of the text as a criticism of the legal community of Kafka's Prague to interpretations of the text as a biblical allegory. Synaesthetic Theatre's The Trial of K is a multimedia interpretation of the classic work presented through the perspective of our current socio-political landscape, where the NYCLU's Surveillance Camera Project has reported an increase of 4,000% in video surveillance over the past 6 years and new surveillance infrastructures like the Total Information Awareness program are discussed by our governing bodies. In the Trial of K, Synaesthetic Theatre focuses this growing obsession with surveillance on Josef K's fear of self-scrutiny and judgment and the constant voyeurism present in Kafka's novel.

In the dawn of the 21st century, the average American citizen encounters surveillance daily. From an almost inconceivable amount of private and government sponsored security cameras to library records opened for government scrutiny, very little activity escapes being recorded and utilized for undisclosed purposes. "The U.S. security establishment is reaching deeper and deeper into our private lives by forcing the corporate sector to inform on the activities of individuals," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The government has always recruited informers to help convict criminals, but today that recruitment is being computerized, automated, and used against innocent individuals on a massive scale that is unprecedented in the history of our nation." In the name of national security, Americans are asked to give up privacy and modify our Constitutional rights to assemble and express dissent. We have agreed to spy on our neighbors and are conditioned to look everywhere for "suspicious" activity.

In addition, voyeurism has emerged as America's next great pastime. Major television networks feature hours of reality programming 每 including arrests, trials, marriages, card games, cosmetic surgery and dysfunctional family breakdowns. The Trial of K co-director Joy Leonard comments, "Apparently, the American desire to press ourselves against the window of others' lives is insatiable, because new reality shows often find an immediate audience." In Synaesthetic Theatre's The Trial of K, Josef K is launched into the spotlight of criminal celebrity. The eye of the public becomes an inescapable fact of his existence; whether the watchers are external or internalized, K lives his life as if it's a performance for a cynical but easily titillated crowd. Synaesthetic Theatre sets out to examine Kafka's novel by creating an Expressionistic-Noir world of paranoid assumptions and illicit desires, where everyone belongs to an unknown Court. Josef K has the right to remain silent, but his thoughts, actions, and fantasies WILL be used against him, and exposed for all to witness.

The Trial of K is co-directed by Joy Leonard and Chris Nichols, and features Margaret O'Sullivan, Clinton Powell, Tina West Chavous, Aubrey Hardwick, Ted Hannan, Joy Lynn Alegarbes, Ginger Legon, and M.A. Makowski as creator/performers. Designers Seth Trucks (Video), Rench (Composer), David Crittenden (Costumes), Paul Hudson (Lighting) and David Szlasa (Set) contribute live video surveillance, an original trip-hop score and a stunningly visual environment inspired by the shapes, lines, angles, and shadows of German Expressionism and Film Noir.

Synaesthetic Theatre is a non-profit experimental collective of artists dedicated to creating original multimedia theatre with a social conscience. As a community of creators, the collective synthesizes voice, text, movement, sound, video and visual design into a single, harmonious performance experience for spectator and performer alike. Directors, designers and performers collaborate in a unique process to develop, write, and create each show, resulting in truly ensemble-driven work. Synaesthetic Theatre strives to create a safe, challenging and supportive environment where artists of varying backgrounds and disciplines can work together, experimenting with new forms, collaborating across media boundaries and collectively shaping the production. Every Synaesthetic production is constructed during the rehearsal process by the cast, directors and designers and is conceived as an experiment on one or more levels 每 an attempt to overcome assumptions on the part of the artists and audience regarding what is possible or permissible within a live performance format. "Kafka's novel is one of the strongest pieces of source material Synaesthetic has created a show from," states The Trial of K co-director Chris Nichols. "Its episodic dream qualities, its incompleteness and its paradoxically optimistic bleakness work well with Synaesthetic's aesthetic and process of group creation and collaboration."

Since 1997, Synaesthetic Theatre has created and produced eight original multimedia plays for the theater. From its inception as a small artistic collective, Synaesthetic Theatre has grown into an organized non-profit company of 15 collaborating member artists, presenting an annual season of educational development programs for performing artists and creating one original multimedia production each year.

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