Synaesthetic Theatre: a multimedia experimental theater collective
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The Trial of K

Castilla y Leon International Arts Festival
Salamanca, Spain

03/30/05 - 04/09/05
The Culture Project
45 Bleecker Street
New York City, NY

1 hour, 40 minutes

Official The Trial of K website

The Trial of K is a live multimedia Play Noir inspired by Franz Kafka's unfinished masterpiece, The Trial. The production blends physical theatre, dance, live streaming surveillance video and original music with the visually intense genres of German Expressionism and classic Film Noir. Synaesthetic Theatre's multidimensional dream-play pits a charmingly arrogant Josef K against a secretive and unforgiving Court of Law. Under the strain of constant surveillance, anti-hero Josef K (Margaret O'Sullivan) spirals from self-righteous indignation through fear and doubt toward an inevitable verdict, as author Kafka (Clinton Powell) documents K's descent. Unable to defend himself against the Court's unspecified charges, K's confidence is eroded through interactions with a surreal parade of characters men and women drawn by the scent of his "guilt." Kafka provides insight and commentary as K fights a losing battle on unfamiliar ground the hallucinatory territory of his own unexamined fantasies and fears.

Written in 1914, the meaning of Kafka’s The Trial remains a topic of academic debate to this day. Opinions vary vastly depending on the critical source, from views of the text as a criticism of the legal community of Kafka’s Prague to interpretations of the text as a biblical allegory. Synaesthetic Theatre’s The Trial of K is a multimedia interpretation of the classic work presented through the perspective of our current socio-political landscape, where the NYCLU's Surveillance Camera Project has reported an increase of 4,000% in video surveillance over the past 6 years and new surveillance infrastructures like the Total Information Awareness program are discussed by our governing bodies. In The Trial of K, Synaesthetic Theatre focuses this growing obsession with surveillance on Josef K's fear of self-scrutiny and the constant voyeurism present in Kafka's novel.

In the dawn of the 21st century, the average American citizen encounters surveillance daily. From an almost inconceivable amount of private and government sponsored security cameras to library records opened for government scrutiny, very little activity escapes being recorded and utilized for undisclosed purposes. "The U.S. security establishment is reaching deeper and deeper into our private lives by forcing the corporate sector to inform on the activities of individuals," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The government has always recruited informers to help convict criminals, but today that recruitment is being computerized, automated, and used against innocent individuals on a massive scale that is unprecedented in the history of our nation." In the name of national security, Americans are asked to give up privacy and modify our Constitutional rights to assemble and express dissent. We have agreed to spy on our neighbors and are conditioned to look everywhere for “suspicious” activity.

In addition, voyeurism has emerged as America’s next great pastime. Major television networks feature hours of reality programming – including arrests, trials, marriages, card games, cosmetic surgery and dysfunctional family breakdowns. In Synaesthetic Theatre’s The Trial of K, Josef K is launched into the spotlight of criminal celebrity. The eye of the public becomes an inescapable fact of his existence; whether the watchers are external or internalized, K lives his life as if it’s a performance for a cynical but easily titillated crowd. Synaesthetic Theatre sets out to examine Kafka’s novel by creating an Expressionistic-Noir world of paranoid assumptions and illicit desires, where everyone belongs to an unknown Court. Josef K has the right to remain silent, but his thoughts, actions, and fantasies WILL be used against him, and exposed for all to witness.


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