Category: 1001 (4)
Hello Insite Readers!
Here’s another great batch of student responses! This time, to 1001, a play by Montclair State alum, Jason Grote, presented by the B.A. Theatre Studies Senior Class. Student Forum is very pleased to present our favorite three responses, by Joseph Rosario, Ally Blumenfeld and Gillian Holmes. These critiques were written for Dr. Neil Baldwin’s Play/Script Interpretation Class and fulfill the mission of Montclair State’s new Creative Research Center: to spotlight exemplary student writing. Montclair State’s Creative Research Center is directed by Dr. Baldwin. High-five, Neil! …and now, to Gillian Holmes!
“What are any of us but a collection of stories?” Jason Grote’s Scheherazade asks the audience of 1001. All things considered, especially in the context of theater, Scheherazade makes a great point. Which is precisely why 1001 was a poignant, compelling choice as a piece to be put on at Montclair State University by the Theatre Studies Seniors. Often it seems as though theatrical productions overlook the very important aspects of stories that beg to be told, forgotten in the wake of flashy musical numbers or a political message. If the story is neglected, it would be extremely difficult for the audience to understand the piece on a deeper level, after all, if we are all just a collection of stories, the easiest way to comprehend the message of a piece of theatre would be to use information from our own lives. Storytelling, a tradition that goes back to before theatre ever existed, illuminates issues, gives us ideas, and offers solutions - among a host of other things. Which is why this particular piece was a bold, challenging selection done at an extraordinary level, much to the credit of the director and ensemble.
Jason Grote’s 1001 was a labyrinth, full of twist and turns. The kind of play that will have you wondering until the very end how the story of Scheherazade and Shahriyar correlate to the story of Dahna and Alan. This play holds significance to myself and (I am assuming) to rest of my classmates because it takes place at a turning point in history, one that we were alive to witness. The September 11th terrorist attack imprinted a permanent image in our minds. How could anyone ever forget how devastating that day was, how devastating the months to follow were as well. Footage of the crumbling towers played on television repeatedly.
We were all affected in some way or another. It has been nine years since that day and there have been many theatrical pieces written and produced about it. One popular film is Flight 93, which tells the story of the passengers who overthrew their hijackers, and though they sacrificed themselves, saved the lives of many. Then there is World Trade Center: which tells the story of two firefighters who were trapped under masses of rocks and the remnants of the collapsed buildings. Both films are heartbreaking and painfully realistic, which is the usual style of any of the works I’ve seen so far, based on September 11th. Then there is 1001, Jason Grote’s play that takes two different worlds and fuses them together creating parallels between two couples from different eras, living under different circumstances, and facing different hardships. Read more »
“Everything we do, it’s like it’s not us doing it, like we’re trapped in this grand narrative. And it’s like, maybe we’re trying to defy that narrative, or reinvent it, and I can’t…”
Jason Grote’s 1001 sometimes speaks for itself, and that isn’t always a good thing.
This relatively new piece by the MSU alum [sort of] chronicles the relationship between Alan, a Jewish New Yorker, and Dahna, a young Arab woman, through the legendary story of King Shahriyar and his wife, Scheherezade. It sounds like a fantastic idea, and it is. However, through arguably little fault of this particular production, cast, or direction, 1001’s multiple nonlinear narratives end up much like dance choreography: spinning in circles, dancing completely around what I’m sure was supposed to be a point. It is obvious that Grote had much ambition in penning this layered, sometimes moving, cross-cultural, post-9/11 dramatic comedy. He toys with convention, which is almost always a good thing. He creates vivid worlds, so different in texture and aesthetics that it is almost impossible to see them all interconnect, and when they do, it’s wonderful. Read more »
The name Jason Grote is on the mind of every current theater student at Montclair State University. Not only is his play, 1001, being mounted by the graduating class of theater studies students, but Grote is also bringing a new musical adaptation of the same play to campus as well as teaching a class about theater for social change. Grote is no stranger to the Montclair campus, as he graduated in 1993 with a BFA in Acting and Directing. Over the last month I kept an online dialogue with Grote to ask him questions about theater for social change. Read more »