This group is for members of Ryan Donovan’s discussion sections in Hunter College’s Spring 2015 Introduction to Theatre course.
The Presence of ‘90s Past by Kseniya Kravtsova
- March 22, 2015 at 11:20 pm #1835
February 28, 2015
Hey ‘90s Kids, You’re Old
February 27, 2015
<p style=”text-align: center;”>The Presence of ‘90s Past</p>
Hey ‘90s Kids, You’re Old, is a comedy revolving around ’90s decade but set in the present. The focus of the play was to see how life would be culturally if things such as CD players, Tamagotchis, Nintendo, Beanie Babies, Power Rangers, Hot Pockets, TV shows and songs from the 1990s (‘90s) existed in the present day. The performance revolved around a man named Brad who was stuck in the ‘90s but lived in the present. Throughout the performance Brad explains to his girlfriend some of the things he loved about the ‘90s and he thinks of situations explaining what it would look like if ‘90s culture was incorporated into the present. Three images that stood out during the performance were Brad’s girlfriend opening a drawer, two actors on an online dating site, and an actor playing a videogame. These three images helped build the feeling of nostalgia throughout the performance Hey ‘90s Kids, You’re Old.
The Kraine Theater was set up as a black-box stage with no more than sixty seats that created an intimate feeling within the audience members. The stage was set up to be close to the audience. The scenery and stage were all black enabling the audience to concentrate on actors, props and costumes. This helped the audience to imagine the scenery and other aspects of the background to their liking making it more personal. The cast consisted of five members. Brad, the lead character, played other roles as well. The actors wore all black during the play so that the same actor could play other roles in costumes as well as be the running-crew. Each scene ended with the lights going off and this gave the actors time to set up the next scene. The black scenery, black stage, and actors wearing all black left room for each person in the audience to mentally visualize what they each believed was going on. This also let the audience members to focus on the props and costumes, which were essential to the performance. Audience members were able to visualize a world that was personal to them, where each specific scene created a feeling of nostalgia causing them to reminisce about the “good old days” of the ‘90s.
The performance started with Brad and his girlfriend on a date at his house when Brad’s cellphone rings. He pulls out a huge car phone from the 1990s and his girlfriend is shocked at what it is. After he tells her what that huge thing is, he goes on to make them both Hot Pockets. Being that the girl is alone with his phone, she looks through his contacts and finds he has been talking to Uncle Jessie, Mr. Feeny, Carmen from San Diego and Xenia. When he comes back, Brad is questioned about why and who this Xenia girl is and why he talked to her over a hundred times. Brad explains that he loved the ‘90s and how things are not the same so he is able to call those characters of the ‘90s to cope with the change going on around him. This set the tone for the rest of the play as Brad looks back to the ‘90s and explains to his girlfriend what was so great about the decade and how things would look like today if these things were around. As Brad reflects, the audience also reminisces.
Accordingly, an image that stood out during the play was when Brad’s girlfriend pulls out a drawer in his room. Brad begins to give his girlfriend a tour of the house and when he comes across a drawer he tells his girlfriend not to open it, which she does anyway. She opens a draw that was about ten feet long with hundreds of stuffed animals, Beanie Babies. As she goes to touch them, Brad yells at her to not touch the tags on the Beanie Babies. He tells her that the Beanie Babies could be worth a lot of money and she checks eBay, when a horrific, piercing sound played. It was dial tone Internet, the infamous AOL sound. She had no idea what was going on.
In addition, although the drawer was imaginary as well as the Beanie Babies, the actors tried to create a certain image in each person’s mind in the audience. This image was personal to me and took me back to when I was growing up in the ‘90s and collected Beanie Babies. And anyone who collected Beanie Babies would know that you couldn’t take the tags off of them, in case they become worth a lot of money in the future. Along with the AOL sound, the image brought me back to the ‘90s. This image created a feeling of nostalgia. I was able to think of memories and reflect on what I personally experienced with Beanie Babies as well as dial tone Internet. If she would have pulled out an actual drawer full of Beanie Babies, it would take away from that personal aspect and maybe I wouldn’t have thought about my experience. This image, being that it was in the first scene, gave a preview of what was to be expected throughout the play. The audience was waiting to see what other things from the past would be brought back to the present.
Similarly, another scene with two actors on a dating site created a feeling of nostalgia. The scene was about the characters Carmen Sandiego and Waldo. The two actors were sitting back-to-back dressed in costumes that would be worn by the specific character. They were typing on an imaginary computer and were on the dating website Tinder. The main focus of this scene was the costumes, the red hat and red coat worn by Carmen Sandiego and the stripped red and white shirt and glasses worn by Waldo. Because the actors played in previous scenes in all black, they were able to play new characters in the costumes. This image created a feeling of nostalgia for me as well. I was brought back to the game, where you had to look for Waldo in a huge crowd. Also, I remembered how I watched an after school show that gave you clues to figure out what part of the world Carmen Sandiego was in. This scene portrayed a ‘90s situation in the present, both characters using Tinder. This showed how people meet each other in the present. Not only did this image make me think about the past but it also made me laugh at how funny it would be if these characters lived in today’s world.
Also, the image where an actor was playing a videogame enabled me to look back at memories of playing Nintendo. The actor in this scene was playing Super Mario Bros. The actor playing the videogame was sitting on the side, playing an imaginary Nintendo, while an actor, Brad, played Mario. Brad was in all black in the previous scenes and now that he was in costume the audience was able to differentiate the two. Thus, the use of costumes and props was important to this scene not only to create a visual for the audience but also to help distinguish between what characters what actor is playing. The actor playing Mario was dressed up in the red costume and was running and jumping like Mario would in the videogame. Since the stage was very close to the audience, it felt as if the audience was playing the actual game.
In addition, right after Mario jumped and ran a bit, another actor dressed as an army man came out. He was an addition to the old game. He ran after Mario with a gun and shot at him. After three attempts he ended up dying because the army man found new weapons to kill him with. On his last of the three attempts to survive, Luigi came to save Mario but died as well because the army man had a gun, knife and gasoline to set them on fire. Not only did I reminisce about the times I played the old Super Mario Bros. but also how much videogames have changed over the years. With the way a new character was incorporated into an old game, the play enabled me think about how violent videogames are today. The army man was ten times more violent than Mario and Luigi combined. This depicted how something as simple and fun as a videogame can be evolved into something violent and evil today.
Therefore, these three images were able to bring me back to the memories I had from my childhood. I was able picture some of the things from the ‘90s in the present. In the end Brad’s girlfriend tells him, that he was happy because he was living in the moment during the ‘90s unlike now. Although, I was brought back to some of my favorite memories, they are still memories. It is good to think back to these things but it would be silly if they existed today because things change. The actors did a good job in creating the feeling of nostalgia depicted in the overall performance: the stage set-up, scenery, the acting, costumes and use of props. The actors left a lot of room for imagination, which contributed to the personal reflection of memories from the ‘90s. Although I picked these three images, everything I saw during the performance I would have liked to reflect on. These three images created the most nostalgia in me and it was done in the most comedic way. I felt joy and happiness throughout the whole play, from beginning to end. Leaving the play I wanted to see more and realized it’s always good to reminisce happy memories but the ‘90s need to stay in the ‘90s.
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