Co-founded in 2017 by director and performer Tyler Michaels King and playwright Tyler Mills, Trademark is a young theater that commissions new work. Wanting to workshop part of a new play by Harrison David Rivers, they could have done a Zoom reading. Instead, they made a provocative and involving 25-minute film that had its first showing Thursday night on YouTube.
“What You Can’t Keep: Part One” is told in monologues, voice-overs and extreme closeups, all filmed in black and white. It’s the first part of a play about intimacy, art, love, and complicated relationships between two couples. We’re introduced to one of those couples, Lizzie (Miriam Schwartz), a photographer, and Lucas (Eric Sharp), whose job/vocation isn’t yet made clear. At one point he says, “I make my living creating things.”
From the start, when we learn that Lizzie’s work as an artist involves photographing couples being intimate with each other, we’re asked to think about intimacy and how we understand it. We suspect that Lizzie’s understanding of intimacy might be different from Lucas’.
We hear each of them talk individually about their first meeting – they’ve been set up by friends – and what they found most memorable. It’s possible the entire play is memories. The film has a dreamy, almost nostalgic quality. Much of it is shot at very close range, the closeness of hairs and teeth and pores, of eyes and mouths filling the screen. This draws us into a sort of intimacy with Lizzie and Lucas, something that wouldn’t have, couldn’t have happened during a staged reading.
The film teases us with possibilities. Rivers’ language is poetic and visual, which might have helped sparked the idea for the film. Schwartz (now living in Portland, Oregon) and Sharp did all of their own filming, with Michaels King directing remotely through Zoom. Mills was stage manager and audio editor. Braddon Olson did the post-production and editing, choosing which images and sequences to use among the many sent by Schwartz and Sharp. Olson also found and added the B-roll footage – a thunderstorm, water, and more – that helped to illustrate parts of the story. The film was made by six people.
Thursday night’s debut was followed by a talkback with all six. A few more things we learned: To Rivers, storytelling is an act of intimacy. Everything was filmed on iPhones. Sharp and Schwartz learned to use macro lens attachments. The play has at least two more parts. To film in black and white was a decision made early in the process; Rivers loves black and white.
“What You Can’t Keep: Part One” is a peek into a play we’ll see someday, when we can gather again. Meanwhile, the film is worth seeing for its own sake, with sensitive performances from Schwartz and Sharp. It’s available to stream on demand through Sunday at midnight. FMI and registration (pay-what-you-choose). Content warning: sex. Not graphic, but present.
V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.
L Saturday, April 24: Independent Bookstore Day. This year’s Indie Bookstore Day will take some pre-planning, but what doesn’t these days? Start by checking with your favorite bookstores to see what they’re up to. Will they be open for in-person browsing? Curbside pick-up only? Appointment only? Something else? Wild Rumpus will hold its first-ever outdoor pop-up sale; Birchbark will host an outdoor market over two days, weather permitting. Go here for a searchable map of participating bookstores, or check Rain Taxi’s list. Be sure to pick up a Twin Cities Independent Bookstore Day Passport, if you haven’t already.
V Sunday, April 25, 4 p.m.: Zeitgeist: COINCIDENT Episode 3 premiere and virtual reception. Zeitgeist, the new music ensemble, continues the epic journey it began in February with COINCIDENT Episode 1 (reviewed here). A collaboration among the four multi-instrumentalists and improvisers of Zeitgeist, St. Cloud-based new-music composer Scott Miller, who also does the mixing, and Los Angeles-based visual artist Carole Kim, who creates complex, hallucinatory, storytelling plays of light and motion beneath her kitchen table, this series is audiovisual world-building. Watch Episode 1 here, Episode 2 here, then tune in Sunday for the latest, followed by a Zoom conversation among the creators. FMI and link to Sunday’s event. Episode 3 will be available for streaming after Sunday’s broadcast.
V Sunday, April 25, 4 p.m.: Schubert Club: Music in the Park Series: St. Lawrence String Quartet. While we would much prefer to see this acclaimed string quartet live at the Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ, the series’ home since 1979, we’ll take what we can get: their virtual performance of Haydn’s String Quartet in D and Debussy’s String Quartet in G. Watch on the Schubert Club’s website, YouTube channel or Facebook page. The concert will remain available to watch until May 25.
V Tuesday, April 27, 6:30 p.m.: Club Book, presented by Washington County Library: Michelle Zauner. Born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in Eugene, Oregon, Zauner is a singer-songwriter who performs as the solo project Japanese Breakfast, So far, she has released two studio albums, “Psychopomp” and “Soft Sounds From Another Planet,” and two music videos from her next one, “Jubilee.” Out this week, her memoir, “Crying in H Mart,” which began as an article for the New Yorker, chronicles her experiences up to and following the death of her mother in 2014. One critic called it “a representation of grief that I could relate to – one that doesn’t reach for silver linings, but illuminates the unending nature of loss.” FMI and link. If you miss the event, you can listen to the podcast later.