Volume 80, Number 9 | July 29 - August 4, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Written by Shannon Sindelar and Ryan Holsopple
Directed by Shannon Sindelar. Sound and video by Ryan Holsopple
A 31 Down/Incubator Arts Project presentation
Through August 7th
At St. Mark’s Church
(131 E. 10th St. at Second Ave.)
Call 212-352-3101

Photo by Mirit Tal

DJ Mendel and Caitlin McDonough-Thayer

In the air and elsewhere, red’s the color of danger
Shadow of Richard Foreman looms large in latest production


White over white,
You’re out of sight.
Red over red,
You’re dead.

Ryan Holsopple learned that ominous jingle at his father’s knee, so to speak. His father was an aircraft pilot. There is an array of lights at the end of any runway, his father explained. White over white means you’ll have a safe landing. Red over red means…you won’t.

The image goes back to Holly’s face. Weary.

A knock is heard. She ignores it.

This is repeated five times with the names of different cities to indicate time and distance and repetition of the ritual. She never answers the knocking on the door. Maybe she tries to curb her anxiety by texting Craig [a boyfriend], eating, smoking…something. Things that shouldn’t be done in an airliner lavatory.

In the next part of the sequence the door knock is answered and [the pilot] is

allowed to enter. A conversation takes place before an intense moment of passion…

Holly walks down a long hallway backwards. The camera zooms in and out

on her face. She stops, and is face-to-face with the Air Traffic Controller, who is also in line for the bathroom. He is holding a beer.

They have a conversation and realize at the back of their heads that some sort of moment has actually happened between them, something more than what she has with Frank [the pilot].

They kiss. At this moment all sound is stopped, and...

Well, maybe we’d better leave it just there for playgoers headed to 131 East 10th. Except to say that you’ll there meet Risa Sarachan as uptight flight attendant Holly; DJ Mendel (an Ontological old hand) as Frank the pilot; Caitlin McDonough-Thayer as the pilot’s wife; and — guess who! — Ryan Holsopple as Ryan the air traffic controller.

Shannon Sindelar and Ryan Holsopple first met at Richard Foreman’s magical workshop. They live together in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — “We’re a couple” — and call their Brooklyn-based theater company 31 Down (after a crossword puzzle-crazy private eye who was a recurring character in various of their shows).

This critic also has never forgotten some of the wonderfully surrealist entertainments mounted by Richard Foreman over the years upstairs at 131 East 10th St. — evenings all full of bric-a-brac and gadgets and Victrolas and other ancient impedimenta and strings, strings, strings in a giant spider’s web all across the face of the proscenium. Not to mention the graphic, luscious, incisive acting.

It all won Foreman some eight Obie Awards and a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship, and we are the richer (or Richarder) for what he gave us.

“He was kind of a legend before I ever got to New York in 1995,” says Holsopple, who was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but brought up in Hershey, Pennsylvania — “Chocolate town,” says Ryan, as if outsiders didn’t know. “I’d read a book of his plays, and then when I got here I found a flyer for one of his plays, ‘Permanent Brain Damage,’ and I went to see that. I thought I couldn’t make theater until I learned how this guy makes theater, so I applied for an internship.”

Much the same was true for Shannon Sindelar, who was born 30 years ago in Cleveland, Ohio, but grew up in Everett, Washington, where her father worked for an electrical company. At Western Washington University she first heard about Richard Foreman.

So what was it like, working with the legend?

“Oh boy,” said Sindelar, letting out a mouthful of air. “He’s very straightforward. Knows exactly what he wants, and is very clear about it. Knows exactly how everything works, including publicity and fund-raising.”

And what you’ve done wrong?

“Yes,” said Holsopple, with Ms. Sindelar nodding agreement. “He caught me fooling with the sound one day. That was fun,” Ryan said grimly. But live and learn. He especially watched Foreman working with the actors, taking from the actors, giving to the actors.

Hey, fellas, do you fly?

“I do,” said Shannon Sindebar.

“She’s scared to fly,” said her partner.

“Í hate it, but you have to,” she declared.’’

“I like to fly,” said Ryan the Chocolate Drop Kid. “I miss the days when people would dress up to fly.”

Or when you could hop on the Eastern Shuttle to Boston and get to Logan in 45 minutes for $14.

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