You've likely heard the request "Please turn off your cellphones" many times by now. Allowing your phone to ring during a performance, never mind actually talking on it, is a huge and universally agreed-upon no-no.
Except for David Schein. At his one-man show this week he'll actually encourage audience members to talk on the phone, even call him onstage. That is, at one of his one-man shows — there are three each night this Thursday through Saturday at the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts. The aptly named "Distraction" is a new work the Burlington actor is workshopping in preparation for a West Coast tour later this year.
What was his motivation? "It's so hard to concentrate anymore," he laments. "You get a call, you look things up online. You hear your phone buzz and you can't find it. Everyone is so distracted!"
So he made a show about it — or more to the point, is still making the show; what's not scripted will be totally improvised, because Schein can't predict what will happen. "The strategy is to build the set pieces and then experiment with the audience," he says. "Every once in a while I just want to jump off the cliff. "It's scary," he admits, "but I do a lot of solo shows."
So any contrarian who might like the sensation of yakking on the phone in a theater — and the potential chaos of everyone doing it — should go to this show.
As a bonus, you'll also get to see two of Schein's older works. "Infarcation" is about a heart attack he suffered — and obviously recovered from — 14 years ago. But this time he's presenting it with two drummers and calls it "a choral work with percussion." And it's funny. "All the medical stuff was hilarious," he assures.
The final work — each of them is short — is "Note From Earth," written by noir novelist Jim Nisbet. If you saw Schein perform it last year at the Off Center, you'll remember it as an intense sci-fi soliloquy from a man on a dying planet.
At that performance, Schein premiered another solo work, "Out Comes Butch." He's now working on a film version of that piece with a production company in Germany. And because the guy apparently never sits still, he's also collaborating with Vermont poet Geof Hewitt "on a musical about global warming." Climate Change: The Musical?