When a group of workers in the service and hospitality industries gathered in the back of a Northeast DC distillery to perform a series of 10-minute plays the evening of August 27, it was with every intention of playing on the actor-waiter cliché.
Post Shift Theatre held their annual A Night of New Works at Republic Restoratives. Tickets sold for $10 each and the back of the bar was packed with viewers for both showings. This year’s theme for the plays was temperature – an idea chosen for its multiple meanings to different kinds of service workers.
“We spent a lot of time thinking of important words in the service industry and were really interested in ‘temperature’ because of all of the things that it could mean in a kitchen,” said artistic director Clancey Yovanovich.
“That kind of customization was something we wanted to hone in on and explore the entire spectrum of heat, from very cold to very hot, and what that means to people.”
The event included six 10-minute performances, ranging from comedic to serious in tone and dialogue. Some plays used the theme literally while others explored the idea of temperature in relationships both familial and romantic.
Each play was an interesting take on the idea of temperature and its multitude of meanings but the night could have used a little more cohesion, especially with the transitions from comedy to more serious and back again.
Despite that, actors were able to transform the large room, dominated by heavy machinery and a unique smell, into whichever setting their performance required – be it a hip bar, a cluttered home of recently divorced parents or an emergency room. Each performance managed to establish a setting with a clever, minimal use of props.
According to Yovanovich, Post Shift Theatre’s goal is to continue performing in more nontraditional spaces that emphasize the theatre company’s deliberate connection to the service industry.
“There’s so, so many artists secretly hiding in aprons in restaurants and we want to explore that too,” Yovanovich said.
These spaces do provide their own challenges, however. The performance would have benefited from some sort of microphone usage to amplify the actors’ voices above both the occasional intrusive sounds of distillery machinery and even above the lively and engaged audience members themselves. While most actors were able to project, some of the quieter moments were lost in a vast room that was probably not designed with performance in mind.
Regardless of the kinks, Post Shift provides entertainment for both fans of local theatre and supporters of those in the service industry, as well as representation for the artists who inhabit both worlds.
Keep up with the theatre company’s events and news on Post Shift Theatre’s Facebook page.