For Michael Yawney, director of the one-man show PET at Miami Light Box at Goldman Warehouse this weekend, the most difficult question to answer is the most elemental: What is the show?
"I think of it as a big cornucopia of stuff," Yawney says. "There's dance, there's music, it's funny, it's sad, it's scary. It is a piece that is written yet still responds to the audience that is seeing it at that performance. And it does make it hard to
That doesn't mean the show is ill-defined, though.
"I often think that when people say a work is a hybrid, it's a way of saying they haven't made up their mind about what it is," he says. "But in this case, I think it's the opposite. I think that [writer-performer] Rudi [Goblen] has made such strong decisions about so much of what's in the piece that it really includes a lot. Is it a dance piece? Yes? Is it a play? Yes. Is it interactive? Yes. Is it noninteractive? Yes. Is there food? Yes. Anything people describe it
These inherent contradictions and shape-shifting formulations are precisely what has helped PET endure, from its 2013 commissioned premiere at the Light Box through three years of additions, deletions, and tweaks at venues throughout the county.
When interviewing subjects for research, he found that most of them wanted to steer the conversation toward love, relationships, and broken hearts.
"I realized that sometimes people don't give themselves the time to heal or mourn or look back at the relationship that just finished and realize why it ended, what worked, what didn't work, what they learned about themselves or the other person," he says. "Some people just jump into a new relationship right away and bring all this baggage that's not dealt with or still swimming around somewhere in there."
PET explores the conditions and mindset of the serial monogamist through every
"The whole idea of people coming to see me perform for them has always been a little conflictive for me," he says. "I try to make it about us, and we're all here together. And because of that, I see myself as the curator of the atmosphere. If I can successfully set the mood and make the audience feel as comfortable as they would in their own homes, then the quicker they can let their guard down and trust me to come on the journey with them. From the beginning, I'm very welcoming — or eerie in a welcoming sort of way."
The show's tone is as mercurial as its format. Audiences can be laughing one minute and feel uncomfortable the
"Intense watching is really what a director does," Yawney adds. "And this piece, because it's so much about how the audience reacts and responds to him and how he responds to their reactions, I feel like I'm standing on a tightrope whenever I watch the piece."
Because the audience plays such a central role in the show's prismatic structure, every performance is different. PET is interactive on more than one level: Some audience volunteers will join him onstage, but the fundamental interactivity lies more in story comprehension than direct involvement, with attendees actively engaged in putting the pieces together.
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"The audience is like a detective, figuring out what happened and what's the relationship between certain things they say at the beginning and things they say later," Yawney explains. "Our big effort has been to give the audience more to work with, to give them more clues so they can put the story together better. It's the audience that writes the story, and we want to give them the tools to write the story with."
For Goblen, PET's return to its place of conception — the Light Box — will offer even audiences that attended the 2013 premiere a production imbued with the kind of wisdom that comes only from the passing of time.
"We're so excited to bring it back to this space," Goblen says. "We created it in this space. I like to call it my love letter to the Light Box. Throughout the three years, we've also been able to play around with some of the
Thursday, April 7, through Saturday, April 9, at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami; 305-576-4350; miamilightproject.com. Tickets cost $16.74 to $27.24.