Combining a Dr Strangelove-inspired performance with a daring forum for public conversation, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) explores ageing, anxiety, hidden desires and how to look forward when the future is uncertain.
Adopting the characters of a bombastic general and ineffectual president, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver of Split Britches lace this interactive piece with both playful urgency and lethargy, encouraging discussion about the political landscape.
Split Britches see unexploded ordnances as a metaphor for the unexplored potential in elders and hope to uncover buried resources in us all. The 10 oldest audience members join the President (Weaver) at the Table and are invited to share stories, thoughts and fears for the future. The flow is broken again and again, by the ringing of phones, the static of radios, the thunder of helicopters and the General’s (Shaw) outbursts. “We don’t have time for this – our hopes are quickly being reduced to a very low order of probability.” Each performance brings a different focal topic, as the elders come to a consensus on what the Situation is that night: at La Mama Theatre NYC, subjects included fracking, global warming, social security and the demagoguery of Donald Trump.
The piece is laced with the sense of finite endings: the nuclear doomsday from Strangelove and our own mortalities. The clock ticks down, our phone alarms are set to ring in 59 minutes, and the performers play with the rhythms of urgency and lethargy: acting as if our time is running out, or as though we have all the time in the world.
In the final part of the conversation, the elders at the Table are asked to unfurl and read out some of our own unexploded ordnances - hidden desires written on crumpled scraps of paper, accumulated through each residency and performance: Our buried and unexplored desires are re-appropriated as creative solutions to the Situation; as a hopeful, human response to what may feel like a gloomy geopolitical landscape.*
* Description of work taken from Split Britches website
BY SPLIT BRITCHES (Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw)
Written by: Lois Weaver, Peggy Shaw and Hannah Maxwell
Directed by: Lois Weaver
Assistant Director: Sarah Vickery (NYC, LaMama)
Collaborators: Alex Legge, Claire Dolan, Jo Palmer, Matt Delbridge, Sarah Vickery, Edythe Woolley and Meg Hodgson