Why This Matters: “Eat the Runt,” a workplace satire that will be produced in September by Donna Scott Productions, provides a participatory experience for audiences reflective of our changing community.
By Bernie Petit
Audience members can play casting director by using their smartphones at the upcoming Donna Scott Productions performance of “Eat the Runt.”
The participatory theater experience, which runs Sept. 7-23, 2017, requires audiences to vote for the roles the eight cast members will play at the start of each performance. Audience members will text or write-in their votes for one character at a time until every character (and actor) is cast.
Voters will need to make quick decisions about who they want to cast in what role so that the actors can gather themselves backstage, grab whatever props they need to identify their roles and get on with the show.
“You’re in the seat of deciding,” said theater company namesake Donna Scott. “Casting directors and theater directors fret and fret and fret over it, so this is an opportunity for audience members to play director and cast it and see what it looks like once you do it.”
“Eat the Runt,” by Avery Crozier, is a workplace satire that follows Merritt, who is trying to land a grants manager job at an esteemed art museum. As a result, they go through a series of interviews with different people in the museum, including a human resources director, a curator and a trustee. The increasingly bizarre interviews between Merritt and their interviewers regularly defy societal and cultural norms related to gender and race.
You probably noticed the use of the pronouns “they” and “their” in reference to Merritt. That’s intentional. “Eat the Runt” is called “the play without pronouns” because there are no gender-specific pronouns associated with any of the characters, whose names are all considered gender-neutral.
Any of the eight Charlotte-based actors in the production can play any character in the show, so the cast has to learn all of the lines and staging directions for each character.
“It requires a lot from them but it also gives them the opportunity within one show to play seven or eight different roles, which you normally don’t get,” Scott said. “So I think for them it’s a fun challenge.”
It’s also a unique experience for every audience, statistically speaking. There are more than 40,000 possible casting combinations, meaning there is less than a 0.1- percent chance the same casting combination will occur twice.
“It certainly does make you feel like you’ve been a part of creating this thing that’s about to happen, so there is this great kind of cool, collective experience that you’re having with everyone else in the audience at the same time,” Scott said. “You came up with it and then you get to watch it all play out just like you planned.”
The production, which increases program relevance and innovation by providing a participatory experience reflective of our changing community, is supported by a Cultural Vision Grant from ASC.
Put Yourself in the Director’s Seat
Donna Scott Productions will produce “Eat the Runt,” a workplace satire by Avery Crozier, Sept. 7-23, 2017. The opening night performance will be held at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture at Levine Center for the Arts (551 S. Tryon St., Charlotte). All other performances will be at the Charlotte Art League (1517 Camden Road). Show time is 8 p.m. nightly. “Eat the Runt” will be directed by Tonya Bludsworth.
Tickets for the opening night performance event at the Gantt Center are $30 and available at http://www.ganttcenter.org/calendar/eat-the-runt/.
Tickets for all other performances at the Charlotte Art League are $25-30 and available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3034642.