Stage dramas successfully utilizing video projections are few and far between. Often the coupling is at best tedious, and usually a silly distraction. With Disposable Men James Scruggs crafts an organic, mesmerizing piece of theater seamlessly incorporating multiple forms of video and visual content.
He is aided by his choice of material — Disposable Men explores African-American male “otherness” and compares it to the manner movie monsters have been portrayed in classic Hollywood cinema — King Kong, Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man. On stage Scruggs recites monologues in which he takes on a number of personas including an old man reminiscing about his life. He leafs through a photo “picture book” that when opened reveals blank pages onto which visual images are projected. These “home snapshots” show individuals attacked by police dogs, sprayed with fire hoses, and lynched in the Civil Rights era. The legacy of famous Hollywood monsters is compared with the cultural persona of African-American males — both paraded in front of audiences, feared, fetishized, called into question, chased by mobs, and historically, imprisoned and lynched.
It seems apt the piece began as performance art in DUMBO. It often seems installation artists have the ability to incorporate video and visuals into the DNA of stage drama more organically than straight theater dramaturges. Disposable Men is media-saturated storytelling that makes critical links between Hollywood monsters, personal histories, and searing emotional landscapes from which we can examine how we categorize and segment societies.
Here Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave, 212-868-4444