POST: 'Caught' - Is it a play? Is it real? Is it an act?
What's it about?
Caught is about the fine line between truth and lies, the way our perceptions and expectations can be totally off. (But it’s totally okay-- and funny!-- in this case.)
What'd I experience?
I walked into the theatre not completely sure what I was in for that night, which is more or less the usual when it comes to me seeing plays. I like to be surprised, and I don’t like accidentally coming across spoilers online (sorry in advance: this might definitely turn into one of those spoilers). Turns out that my expectations were even more off than I initially expected.
I walked into what was a bit of a photo gallery. Apparently, an artist had rented out his New York studio for one night-- with a special condition. From 9pm to 12am, the resident had to stay in a cage without their cell phone, a book, or any means of contact or fun. The cage was meant to represent what time in a prison cell felt like and the photos were meant to reveal the New Yorkers’ experiences in their “cell”.
As I walked through the space, I was eventually led to seats. These seats were facing the very cage those people had spent the night in. I wondered if this was actually the set and if I was going to have to watch someone sit inside it for three hours, and thought that would so not be worth the hour and a half commute I took to get here. Good news-- I didn’t have to.
Instead, the artist came out, telling us about the 2 years he spent in prison in China for holding an imaginary protest-- sending out an image that went viral, advertising a protest in remembrance of the June Fourth Incident in Tiananmen Square. He gives the date and time, but not the location. It was kind of like a Ted Talk and I was very confused by it, like when is this going to become a play? And then I just got even more confused from there on out.
The Ted Talk transitioned into a skit that totally debunked everything that was talked about in the Ted Talk and the whole Chinese prison turned out to be a fraud, something about how the cabbage soup in his story was actually supposed to be potatoes. And the artist drops his Chinese accent and it turns out he's a Chinese-American who made the whole thing up. The imaginary protest still technically happened though, since he did imagine it.
But this part was obviously a skit, so I was like, “Okay, cool, but he was definitely eating cabbage soup in prison every day for 2 years right? This is just for kicks.” Right after the skit, the artist who wrote or planned out the skit came on “stage” for an interview with one of the actresses from the skit. But then... The interview ended up being a skit too.
By this point, I thought my brain was going to implode on itself because I was so confused-- I didn’t know what was happening, yet I did know what was happening, and I loved it but I also felt kind of like a deer in headlights. I'm really glad that I was actually supposed to be confused (I was starting to feel really young and uncultured). I was supposed to be questioning what I was actually seeing. Is it about art? Is it a play? Is it real? Is it an act? And it's actually everything you think it could be, just rolled into one performance.