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Small Plots Diary – May 9 – Too Many Oranges

June 11, 2009

May 9, 2009
Too Many Oranges (#1), Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe, 2:00pm
Friend #1: Trey;   Friend #2: Jake;   Woman with too many oranges: Linda

The tonal setting for Too Many Oranges couldn’t be more fitting this sunny, slightly windy Saturday as we congregate at the corner of 4th and Liberty. Here, in front of Mooney’s Mediterranean Café, bright orange patio umbrellas hover over more humble  street cones and the saturated orange dress of an audience member. As Trey sets up near the front entrance of the Café, there is a steady flow of foot traffic as people move west toward the wine tasting festival on 4th Street. He sighs, looks around, and fiddles with a Rubik’s Cube until his abundantly energetic friend Jake greets him with as much (if not more) enthusiasm as the Old Friends Small Plot. As the friends converse, a woman with too many oranges crammed into a paper grocery bag walks by – narrowly missing a banana peel that lays unassumingly, but perilously on the street corner.

Orange abounds on 4th Street

Orange abounds on 4th Street

The Plot is supposed to repeat itself approximately every five minutes, but the actors have established a quick pace that grows increasingly frequent, and increasingly theatrical. Carving his place in the ambiguous Small Plots “spotlight,” Jake launches into elaborate scenarios involving spies, secret treasures and international espionage at the same time that Linda visibly tires – struggling to manage her unwieldy cargo as her face reddens and sweat begins to bead. For the knowing audience the entire scene feels like its building to a crescendo, while the unknowing audience stands at the metaphorical “front gate,” trying to crack the code and enter “the know.” The wife of Café’s owner Mooney is a case in point, allowing her young daughter to play nearby as she watches the plot repeat itself over and over again with bewildered amusement. She smiles at us and quietly asks what’s going on, curious to know more but not wanting to interfere with the mysterious event unfolding before her eyes.

The banana peel lies in wait

The banana peel lies in wait

As an anonymous but somehow collective unit, the audience begins to move closer. After numerous passes by the banana peel, a penny is placed in front of Trey’s feet and we prepare for the ensuing rain of oranges to come. On cue, and with relief that her long walk has reached its “destination,” Linda stumbles, slides, and loses her balance as oranges scatter and roll. The two young friends have left the scene, but no one else offers to help pick up this woman’s errant grocery cache. Is it because I’ve moved in too close with the cell phone camera, or because the audience feels palpably close? I can’t say for sure, but with a kind look to get permission to “enter” the scene, Mooney’s wife helps clean up the bright, round props before they roll into the street. She’s still not entirely sure of all that has transpired, but as we sit upon the patio and her husband enters the conversation, it’s clear that Small Plots has found fertile ground to raise its questions.

only in movies...

only in movies...

the aftermath

the aftermath

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 24, 2009 3:05 pm

    I’m interested in how the spectators have selected their locations for watching the performances. The mother of the boy playing the Rubik’s Cube actually asked me where she should stand to watch the Too Many Oranges performance. To avoid answering the question, I pretended I didn’t understand what she was asking. It created an awkward moment, to say the least.

    She decided to cross the street and sit at a nearby bench – definitely becoming “in the scene.” I guess it makes sense because she was there to see her son perform. Its like going to see Elton John and turning down front row seats because you would rather watch the performance from the back row so that you could see the intricacies of the crowd.

    It’s just not what spectators do…

    Again, we are all playing our roles and responding to one another.

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