Many agree that thanks to social media that may be our new normal.
Roland Tec’s new interactive show explores the blurred lines between what is public and private in today’s world where we’re all connected 24/7. Through the words typed on his laptop and projected directly above his head, the character portrayed by Mr. Tec will be sharing his inner thoughts with anyone walking by in this immersive interactive piece performed in a storefront window.
As you come upon a lone man seated in a window on a commercial street typing on a laptop, you may wonder a few things: how he got there, what his intentions are, why he is typing and why it is you’re able to read every word as it instantly appears on a flatscreen.
But he may have other questions of his own: like who you are and why you’re looking at him. And soon enough you find yourself seeing the world through his eyes, the public sphere viewed from behind the glass with a combination of trepidation, curiosity and judgment.
We generally take for granted that we are in command of who knows what about us, of which thoughts and ideas can be shared and which will be held inside for no other soul to see. But what if one day (like the man in the storefront window) we woke to discover that everything we had previously understood to be within our power to edit was suddenly public, whether we like it or not. Each thought projected onto a screen above our heads. As we slowly become aware of the fact that all of our thoughts, however seemingly fleeting and inconsequential, are being read by strangers walking by on the street, we may start to wonder what’s become of what we thought was a right to privacy.
In short order the crowd on the other side of the storefront window may feel something strange and unexpected take hold. The focus of NO PLACE TO HIDE is not just that guy behind the glass and his urgent typing, but all that he sees outside on the sidewalk namely us, the audience and the environment we inhabit. It may have been a curiosity akin to voyeurism that first brought us to the window to have a look. But in short order that feeling of peering in, of watching a stranger exposed evaporates and is replaced by a gnawing suspicion that it may be we who are on display here. Our relationship to this place and time is being defined for us in real time through the words that this man types.
Like the best playwrights before him, Mr. Tec’s vision of this world, our real world, is at once familiar and foreign, recognizable and incomprehensible, hopeful and alarming.
Roland Tec first began imagining this piece when he was one of 50 New York playwrights invited to participate in WRITE OUT FRONT, a public event designed to raise awareness for the day-to-day work of writing plays.
Over the last three weeks of August 2012, playwrights were brought in to the bookshop storefront window in 90 minute shifts to do the unglamorous work of working on their next play, on public display for all passers-by to see. As far as we know, the other 49 playwrights took the WRITE OUT FRONT mandate literally, and simply sat in the window and toiled away on whatever draft they happened to be working on at the time.
Tec chose a different path.
Instead of working on a play to be performed by actors at some later date, Tec used his time in the window to experiment and see if all by himself with only the words he could type if he might be able to engage passersby in a kind of dialogue. To make contact, to engage them in a drama, a drama that would unfold somewhat unpredictably between two main characters the man in the window and the crowd on the street.
NO PLACE TO HIDE is still in the workshop phase of development. Over the next 2 years, Mr. Tec intends to workshop the piece in storefronts throughout the U.S. shaping the piece in a kind of extended collaboration with communities large and small.
Filmmaker and producer Roland Tec is an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program in Playwriting at Hollins University and is a Dramatists Guild Institute faculty member. His film producer credits include Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding and Edward Zwick’s Defiance. He wrote, directed, and produced feature films All the Rage and We Pedal Uphill. Professor Tec has taught at Harvard and Brandeis and was a fellow at the Byrdcliffe Artists Colony and at the MacDowell Colony.