The North Plan reading at Pipeline

I started writing a response to a reading I attended on Monday at Pipeline but had a lot of difficulty coming up with tidbits that would fit into the format I had used for performances. As this is a play reading and not a performance, I’m instead going to talk more generally about the work (and the awesomeness of Pipeline).

Pipeline is a free reading hosted at Solo Bar and brought to you by New Century Theatre. At Pipeline, you get a glimpse of what shows you might expect to see in their next season (which is generally only one show per, but they take a lot of care in that choice). Following the reading, there is a discussion about the play that tends to deviate from a normal post-play because it focuses on how the audience interpreted the show on an aural, visceral, and imaginative level. The conversation is much more engaging than the basic question (“how do you separate yourself from that awful character you play?”) and answer (“I’m an actor; it’s what I do”) format of a talkback because the audience is analyzing, focusing on the story, and trying to see how it would work on stage.

This week’s Pipeline reading was The North Plan by Jason Wells. New Century’s website has this description:

What would ordinary Americans do if the U.S. government fell into tyranny? Quentin Tarantino meets All the President’s Men in Jason Wells’ The North Plan.  After a ruthless cabal seizes power in Washington, Carlton Berg, a bureaucrat for the State Department, runs off with the new regime’s top secret Enemies List. Unfortunately for Carlton, the chase has come to an end in a police station in the Ozark town of Lodus. With a pair of DHS agents on the way, Carlton’s last chance is in the people around him: an unsympathetic police chief, an ambivalent administrative assistant, and fellow prisoner Tanya Shepke, motor-mouthed recidivist and alcohol enthusiast, who appears to have an attention-deficit disorder and thinks Skynyrd should be on the new money. Let the revolution begin.

Needless to say the show had a lot of interesting elements working. Questions and observations that stuck with me:

  • Is this the rallying cry, the beginning of the revolution, or just one crazy, chaotic chick shooting people?
  • The playwright never mentions how America came to this, only that the change was recent (10 days ago) and the government declared martial law
  • Repetition of “Just tell me, are we killing people”
  • Will the police administrator carry on  with the revolution? Is that why she’s not present by the end of the play?
  • The last stage direction: “Skynyrd
Pipeline ends with the question “Would you like to see this play fully staged?” Absolutely.

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