The Theatre of the Barely Socially Acceptable, Act 2

22 Jan 2004
January 22, 2004

Last month, after a particularly grueling day at work I founded The Theatre of the Barely Socially Acceptable. Each month I would perform underground cell phone conversation tableaus to the apathetic minions riding DC’s subway system, the Metro. The response to our premiere performance was fantastic. No one suspected a thing and no one took notice.

Today, my theatre troupe debuts the second in its series. Speeches this week by two diametrically opposed politicos (both in tone and in temperament) provide the muse for this month’s production:

Hi, yeah it’s me.
Let me –wait a minute.
Wait a minute. Wait.
Nah, I don’t think the terrorist threat will expire on that schedule.
The Patriot Act, si se pueda.

And you know something?
You know something?
We will NOT give up.
Man, don’t give me a permission slip to defend us.
Right. Cool. Very cool.

Double the budget.
We’re going to New Hampshire
And to South Carolina.
And Oklahoma and Arizona

The killers will fail.
And that’s hard to explain to our partners
Yeah, willing foreign workers when no Americans can be found
In Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Phillippines, Thailand
And North Dakota and New Mexico.

And we’re going to Washington!
Yeah, I’m on the Red Line right now.
Straight to the White House.
Shit. The train’s out of service.

Wait, I can switch to the Green Line
The service on this subway bites.
We’re providing more funding for our schools
–a 36 percent increase since 2001.
The Metro? I oppose amnesty.

The status quo always has defenders!
Yeah, the sanctity of marriage
Si se puede. Yeah I think it’s possible.
Wait a minute. Wait, here it comes.
YEEAGH!

Man, that felt good. Whew, really good.
Ok, adiós amigo. Later.

Other Performances:
The Theatre of the Barely Socially Acceptable, Act 1
The Theatre of the Barely Socially Acceptable, Act 3

5 replies
  1. Donna says:

    I had to read this twice before I got it… and I’ve seen that Dean clip a thousand times. I felt sorry for him when it happened live. I immediately noticed this was unexpected and people don’t like unexpected reactions. They are like mean school-yard children who have to make fun when someone does something different and real.
    But even though I feel sorry for him, he’s never been my first choice.
    Oh – how do you do these w/o laughing?

  2. Jeff says:

    Who says I don’t laugh?
    The irony is that I was writing this on the train ride home last night and sitting right next to me was a man on his cell. He obviously thought he was in a phone booth (remember those?).
    His voice bellowed about the whole car as he was telling his cousin about a bone marrow transplant operation: “Yeah, they can’t numb the bone when they suck the marrow out…”
    What do you say to someone like that? As I left I wished his friend good luck.

  3. Gregory says:

    Brilliant, Jeff!

  4. jeff with a z says:

    I rode the bus to campus yesterday. When I got on I noticed the bus driver had his cell phone cradled on his shoulder and he was talking low and fast. As I moved back in the bus, I could hear every word, louder than in front. I realized the PA mike was on, and was close to the driver’s mouth as he spoke on his cell.
    Every detail of his shopping for a 22 foot runabout recreation boat with his cousin last week, and his plans for further shopping, were relayed to a full bus. No one cracked a smile.

  5. Jeff says:

    Jeff, this is one of more interesting aspects of mobile phony commuter theater (as Howard Rheingold has coined this phenom).
    Despite the performance (whether it be something intentional or, more importantly, the theater of the everyday as you witnessed) people don’t know what to do with themselves (don’t know how to react or even if they should react).
    When the man started talking about bone marrow, before looking at him, I looked around the subway car to see if anyone else had taken notice. Only one other person looked up. Our eyes met in agreement and that was it.
    However, I will say, that sometimes my underground theatre ensemble (which used to also include one or both of my young daughters as we commuted to daycare as well as work) has gotten wonderful audience participation.

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