Stark Insider visits Stuck Elevator

San Francisco’s Stark Insider visited the American Conservatory Theatre studios during rehearsals of Stuck Elevator. Check out the fun video they made with clips of rehearsal footage + interviews with director Chay Yew and actor Joel Perez:



Here are excerpts from Trapped in an Elevator for 81 Hours by Clinton Stark:
When we headed this week to the A.C.T. rehearsal space in San Francisco, I expected a straightforward account — okay, here’s a guy stock in an elevator, who hallucinates in fantastical, hyper, stereo-vision, before being remarkably rescued days later. Case closed. Substitute the elevator with an isolated slot canon, Guang with James Franco, and you might even have the Bronx version of 127 hours. Isolation, hallucination, hunger. We’ve seen that before. But there’s a few things that takes this production in otherwise unexpected directions.

For one, we soon see the elevator as a metaphor for the American Dream; symbolizing what we can and cannot achieve. Specifically, immigration becomes a major theme.

“Instead of an awful Andy Warhol experience of trapping you in a little elevator for eighty-one hours for you to be with this one person,” says Yew. “The elevator is beautiful in that wonderful metaphorical way. Most people are stuck. We forget that a lot of illegal immigrants basically service this country in so many ways.”

“If you see a Mexican gardener, he’s one of the few lucky ones that has crossed the desert to be here. You don’t realize he’s working for $30 per day. And he’s seen, smelled and maybe even experienced a bit of death along the way.”

In the words of artistic director Carey Perloff, “Who would have thought you could turn the true story of a frightened Chinese deliveryman stuck in an elevator into a hilarious and heartbreaking musical about hunger, immigration, family, dreams, and duck sauce?”

The other facet of Stuck Elevator that caught my attention as I watched the six member ensemble during the spirited rehearsal session was the hybrid nature of its presentation. Yes, it’s a play. But it’s one that employs a stylish mix of opera, musical theater, and solo performance to tell a story rich in quasi-reality.
Stuck Elevator plays at the American Conservatory Theatre, April 4-28, 2013.
Dedicated to intercultural collaboration, Byron Au Yong composes songs of dislocation, music for a changing world. He teaches in Performing Arts & Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

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