Why have I been so drawn to unconventional uses of curtain calls lately?
First was Once Upon a (korea) Time‘s projection hack.
Then came Monday’s curtain call chopping.
And now, two more for you today:
Montag at Soho Rep, and The Cost of Living on Broadway.
But before diving in, let’s return to the lede’s question:
The answer is probably because I try to get my readers to think about EVERY SINGLE DETAIL IN A PIECE OF ART, especially the commonly overlooked or under-utilized, and curtain calls perfectly fit this analytical bill; they’re an inherited tradition that unfold according to a typical script, one that rarely informs the actual art. BUT, messing with this — and most! — artistic norms can quite literally expand the bounds of a production’s expression.
For example: two recent shows imbue their curtain calls with new information for the audience to interpret.
And for a play as enigmatic as Montag (you should expect nothing else at Soho Rep), any morsel of information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is like manna in the desert for our understanding. Which is why I noticed that the curtain call is the first time the audience can read the text on a shirt worn by a structurally-important character (he’s first introduced at the very end, always a telltale sign that such characters and their late entrance mean *something* (probably more like some things)). In the play proper, the shirt’s design is blocked from our sight by blinding backlights.
I’m still mulling how this merchandise reveal of the Salty Dog Cafe on Hilton Head might be noteworthy…but it’s definitely a deliberate decision worth *some* consideration.
Meanwhile, The Cost of Living‘s curtain call shares Once Upon a (korea) Time’s aforehyperlinked mindfulness regarding the very last image audiences see of the characters. And for images of character, costume is a primary concern. Which is why I was struck by how Kara Young chooses to shed the winter coat that she finishes the play in for her bows, opting instead to rock the dress underneath that’s connected to a seminal pivot point in the preceding drama.
Why did the powers-that-be feel like the character should be in this dress for the final tableau?