Audience and Actor

Making do with Them That Do

Making do with Them That Do

A folded table for a screen. Stones for a tripod. Extension cords for power. Our first street screening of Them That Do had a guerrilla feel to it. I am not sure what kind of impact these screenings will have, but it feels like a good place to start.

Sharon Joy Shoatz-Mayazi, the block captain of the 200 block S. 58th St., invited me to show my videos as part of a National Night Out event in her neighborhood. I knew that the evening would roll along organically, not on any schedule. So I was not surprised that after the sun had set behind the row homes on the west side of 60th Street, Shoatz-Mayazi was still trying to solve the problem of how we would power the projector and stereo system in the playground next to Sayer High School. What did catch me by surprise, though, was that my films were the only activity on the agenda for the night, apart from three crafts and jewelry vendors who set up tables outside the playground fence. Teenage boys played basketball on the other side of the playground.

Shoatz-Mayazi and two friends were able to stretch three long extension cords from her home across S. 58th St and into the playgroud. Power! The promised projection screen never made it to the site. We made do. We flipped the plastic folding table intended to hold the projector and stood it on a bench. That provided a very nice, solid screen. The projector we set on top of a folding chair, propping a stone underneath to somewhat straighten the horizon line of the projection. We had four additional folding chairs and a stool for the audience. The remaining four or five spectators stood.

As the opening sequence rolled onto the tabletop screen, the event became a complicated space where everyone present — the block captain, the boys playing basketball, the crafts vendors, the two police officers who stopped by on foot patrol, the disinterested neighbors walking past the playground on all sides, the folks in the cars rolling over our extension cords, and I — were audience and actors. The 2 x 3 foot projected image was the least interesting thing in this landscape of effort and apathy.

Thanks to the University City Arts League for the projector!



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