Antenna Theater's "Adjusting the Idle"
One month after receiving my Michigan State driver's license I totalled my parents car.
Antenna Theater, in association with the Billboard Cafe and Theater Artaud, presents "Adjusting the Idle" at the Theater Artaud through April 28th. Walkman-ologist Chris Hardman has created and directed a walk-through environmental theater experience, designed to evoke our personal examinations of the ingredients of car culture.
A specially designed space with eighteen Walkman "stations" invites an activated audience to attend a drive-in movie, take a driver's test, play the part of a used-car salesperson making a television commercial, custom design a personal dream car, and sing the Texaco jingle on stage while playing lead guitar, your musical instrument a four-foot ignition key. This cafe theater provides ample room to sit and watch, which is its own fun, and to take nourishment, which is deliciously provided by the Billboard Cafe.
Throughout the evening there was a surprising, somehow futuristic, mix of activity and sound. Each station offers an individualized soundtrack composed of real-life interviews with mechanics, highway patrolmen, streetwalkers, Detroit automotive executives, and ordinary folk.
Wonderful ambient music fills out the taped mini-soundtracks, and is broadcast at intervals all night.
Some stations are markedly more successful than others: Those encouraging cooperation or confrontation between audience members worked well, as does the car salesman spot. Also successful was "DMV", in which an individual listens to taped instructions and then steers an absurd-looking plywood kiddie car around a rinky-dink rout taped on the floor.
The futuristic set, though well-crafted and innovative in its use of plywood and pain, seemed inappropriately clean-cut and new-wave, possibly too abstract to conjure up the gritty grease and gasoline perfume of real cars.
It was only outside the theatre, and back in my own '68 VW, that I remembered the stink of burning rubber when I totalled my own. Susan Meyers
typed by Cheryl Vega 6-29-95