WHY: Look! I was not ready for the vision of what Simone manifested upon the stage with her wonderful cast of actors. This play is a BIG idea piece that asks its audience to think BIG on a multitude of levels which gave the work a thrilling and relevant edge.
VICE asks you to ask questions about the society you are living and actively participating in. How will you exist and can you exist as a whole person within its current structure? I was fully absorbed and allowed myself to be taken into this utopian sci-fi live theatre film that felt like a new form of theatre. VICE felt familiar in that over the past couple of years as a country we have known devastation, yet we also know hope and we remember that human rights are worth fighting for. This play blows up all one’s expectations in the most special and subtle of ways.
We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists from all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. This past year has reinforced what we have been doing at LAFPI – putting women of all kinds first! It is vital that we make space and open doors wider for women from all cultural backgrounds if we are to have a bold, forward thinking American Theatre that reflects America.
Vice is a two act sci-fi live theatre film hybrid that explores the devastation and hope that can arise within imagined futures. The piece ultimately asks: How can you fight to survive when you have been programmed out of existence? How can you reach someone whose vice is a reality where you do not exist?
I’m always overwhelmed with emotion when I discover the many minds of women who exist in our community. That there is space and room for us all to exist and the more space we make the more original pieces that begin to sprout. What I love about Simone is that she is willing to risk and take a unique approach to theatre making and telling stories. In her own words, “The words we say, the things we do, and the stories we tell have immeasurable power to change our world.” Simone approaches her work with great intention and the process is deeply rooted in care for the weight of the work, those who contribute to making it, and those who receive it whether the form be poetry, dance, music, sound or performance.
(And Vice is also playing at at the Zephyr, in a great part of Melrose where cocktails and food go hand and hand – you’re sure to catch a show that is original and innovative!)
Constance: What do you hope audience members take away after experiencing your show?
Simone: Vice is a piece that asks more questions than it answers: Who will be the new gatekeepers of the worlds imagined? Who will be left out? In the worlds and realities of the future, who will be fighting to be seen and heard and believed? As we continue building fantastic worlds through digital spaces that augment and alter our realities, I hope audiences consider their role in shaping individual and collective relationships to emerging technologies and to our governing systems. I hope they consider how the many choices they make, large and small, affect what is to come. I want folks to sit with the gravity of that responsibility.
Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of your development/creation process?
Simone: Time has certainly been a challenge. I didn’t have a script when we pitched the idea for Vice this spring, but it was a story concept that had been percolating for a while. I wanted to take on the challenge of writing and developing the first iteration of this play for the Hollywood Fringe while the festival was choosing to use a hybrid format. The writing and rehearsal process moved very quickly, but it was important to me that we stage this production at this moment. I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work of our wonderful cast and crew in realizing this piece so quickly.
Constance: What are you enjoying most as you create your show?
Simone: It was such a joy to write this script and share it with the artists who have been part of the creative process. I am really enjoying making a piece of live theatre again. The actors have been excited to dive in and play, and world building with the design team has been a dream. It’s been a real team effort, and I am very grateful for the wonderful people who have made this show possible.
Constance: The work will be given away soon – how does that feel?
Simone: It feels incredibly exciting to be sharing Vice with the world.
Constance: How long have you been sitting with this work? Why Fringe? Why this year?
Simone: About a year into the pandemic my partner, Rich Johnson, and I decided we really wanted to develop a piece of theatre that was designed for the hybrid film-theatre medium that had been emerging . We talked a lot about what kind of story we could tell that would be enhanced by being a true hybrid rather than a live-stream of a play done out of pure necessity. Rich and I spent a lot of time working on a shared vision for how a live film could be immersive and push the boundaries of what live theatre could look like in a virtual stream, even on a low budget. For us, it was incredibly exciting to envision a dual production – the live theatre performance and live film – that could be equally engaging for audiences in the physical space and online.
When the Hollywood Fringe Festival put out the call for scholarship pitches for this year’s hybrid festival, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to try our hand at this. We pitched an idea for a play I’d had a while back about a not too distant future where rapidly advancing technologies threatened to erase entire classes of people. It seemed like the right time for this kind of narrative – one that deals with marginalization and invisibility, things I’ve been weighing heavily this year as an Asian-American woman. After Centrifuge Arts received news about our scholarship win, I went full steam ahead with the writing process, and Vice became our first true film-theatre hybrid production. It has been a thrilling creative challenge to carry out, and I hope audiences are as excited by it as we are.
Constance: Anything else that must be said – please add!
Simone: We want as many folks as possible to come see Vice! Folks can visit vice.eventbrite.com and use these promo codes: VICE10 ($10 off in-person shows). VICE5 ($5 off live-stream tickets).