In “The Momentum,” performance meets art, meets self-help a la “The Secret,” meets satire—all combined to guarantee an experience not soon forgotten.
“The Momentum, a self-help-sploitation that asks: Unhappy? Listless? Broke? Alone? Depressed? Shoeless? Let its Laws of Attraction massage your vibrations and pull you into the Gaping Hole of Momentum,” says the stage comedy’s press material. The show, which will be the first in a series of collaborations between the Watermill Center and Guild Hall, will stage at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Saturday, September 21, courtesy Brooklyn-based Collaborationtown.
“There’s a fair amount of satire going on,” said C-Town founder, performer and “Momentum” co-writer Geoffrey Decas O’Donnell during a telephone interview on Thursday. “It’s in the vein of ‘The Office,’ the British version: awkward satire.”
His fellow Collaborationtown founder and performer and “Momentum” co-writer, Jordan Seavey, further explained the concept of the slightly out-there piece, which was initially workshopped at Watermill Center in 2010 and has since been performed at the New York International Fringe Festival—it won the Overall Excellence Award—the Emerging America Festival in Boston and also earned a 2012 GLAAD Media Award.
“It satirizes or spoofs the world of self-help, like ‘The Secret,’ and its positive thinking,” he said of how “The Momentum” is based, in part, on the huge success of self-help books such as the immensely popular bestseller, “The Secret,” and its film version during the conference call-style interview. “It feels incredibly earnest … and a fair amount of personal experience from times in our lives when we felt lost, struggling.”
“At one of my jobs I had a boss who was a student of ‘The Secret,’” he continued. “It was ‘We’re going to watch ‘The Secret’ every day and talk about it for an hour.’”
“Momentum” is a three-character play that features a bare set save for three chairs, and the three actors— Mr. O’Donnell, Mr. Seavey and Boo Killebrew. It’s presented in a seminar style, with the actors on stage completing a number of self-help exercises.
Though the action takes place on the stage, there will be no “fourth wall,” or figurative barrier between the actors and the actively engaged audience, according to Mr. O’Donnell.
“The piece starts with a long monologue about being in the Momentum, a spinning hole of energy,” he said. “There are times when I perform the opening monologue that I am in the Momentum; I’ll have a flash and think ‘I need to ride the energy dolphin through this.’ Hopefully, the audience will feel it too.”
Collaborating with each other and with the viewers is something that the two men and their C-Town partners—Ms. Killebrew, director and co-creator Lee Sunday Evans and co-creator TJ Witham, who also manages communications for the Watermill Center—take very seriously. Collaborationtown celebrated its 10th anniversary on September 14, Mr. O’Donnell reported. And the core group has been “learning and making theater” together for 14 years, dating back to their days at Boston University, according to Mr. Seavey.
“Each of us has has helped each other grow a lot as performers and creators,” Mr. Seavey said.
“More actualized,” Mr. O’Donnell added, cracking himself up in the process.
After laughing together for a few seconds, Mr. Seavey continued. “The first time we were on stage at the Fringe Festival, Boo turned to me and was like, ‘What the hell is this?’ and was like, ‘I don’t know.’ It was as scary as it was exciting … and the piece keeps growing and we keep growing with the piece.”
In the vein of the philosophy behind the play, Mr. O’Donnell said that if he were going to put it out there, into the universe, as someone who practices “The Secret” would, he’d like to eventually take the play to Europe.
Mr. Seavey agreed, adding that “hitting the West Coast—where the energy of it would be really well received” would also be something he’d like to see.
And since actualization and goal achievement is the theme of this humorous but serious piece, it’s something to shoot for, he said. But, in the meantime, entertaining and enlightening the audience at Guild Hall is the biggest item on the C-Town agenda in the near future.
“What it preaches is learning to let go of certain things in life. It’s simple, almost stupid, but one of the hardest things to do,” Mr. Seavey said. “Let yourself be open to receive what ‘The Momentum’ has to bring to you. If you’re open, you’ll laugh a bunch and probably cry a little bit. That’s what I want out of a theater experience: I want to laugh and cry.”
The Watermill Center and Guild Hall will present “The Momentum” at Guild Hall in East Hampton on Saturday, September 21, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. For additional information, visit watermillcenter.org, guildhall.org or collaborationtown.org. For reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (212) 253-7484 or visit guildhall.org.