Think Piece: Seeing Redletter

In addition to being one of the writers and cast members for our new show Redletter, Lindsay Muscato is a professional freelance journalist and a longtime fixture on Chicago’s Live Lit scene, most often appearing as the timekeeper and calming force at Ian Belknap’s furious literary cage match, WRITE CLUB. She also spent three years as the Managing Director of The Neo-Futurists, before an opportunity to help set up schools in southeast Asia pulled her in new directions. We’re glad to have had her back with us for the past few months. Here, she talks a bit about the process of creating this show and the thoughts that it conveys.

In January, with just over a month to opening, we finished writing Redletter’s script. Well, sort of. We had the bones of a script, but it needed a serious chiropractic adjustment. So, one subzero night at the theater, we printed out every page and laid them all end-to-end on the stage. Then someone fetched whiskey from the corner store, and we rearranged them all over again. Chop, slice, sew, stitch.Redletter, as you might guess, is essentially a remix — of images, events, emotions and forms. A trailer for it would look joyfully manic: a burrito thumps from the ceiling onto a desk, a newspaper snaps open, Lisa swoons over Robert Redford, Trevor spins under disco-colored lights, Bilal intones about acid rain, Thea gives it all a soundtrack.

This slice-and-dice mirrors how our world works now. More and more, it’s how our minds work, too. As the play says: Someone sees something, and someone writes a story about it, and someone puts it into a tweet, and there’s a backlash to the tweet and a backlash to the backlash. Our digital narratives overlap and unfurl, drama boils between stories, not just within them. They Tumblr themselves into oblivion, everything has porous borders; blogs from our youth merge with celebrity tweets merge with rumor and grist.

Our narratives simply aren’t straight lines any more. And from these crooked, forking paths, we get the world. In our hands. We awaken a screen and open an app to see what we as a populace hath wrought.

Unlike our constantly scrolling feeds, though, Redletter, with all of its juicy fragments, does quantifiably add up to something. It’s a Neo-Futurist show, created by the impassioned and expert Lisa Buscani and directed by Jen Ellison, who took our words and exploded them into new physical realms. Performed in a room. With humans, breathing the same air, and watching the same glorious evisceration of our digital lives. For a full 90 minutes you will be doing the exact same thing as everyone around you.

As Bilal says in the show, our world and its stories create each other. And lots of times, especially online, that evolution spins out of our control. But with Redletter, friend, you are in luck. We created this world and this story just for you and — fueled by a little whiskey on a cold night — scrambled it all up into a damn fine omelet.

Come join us, won’t you?

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