These days, when taking a road trip of any kind — even if it’s just over the state line to New Jersey — it’s almost impossible to think about arriving safely at your destination without the use of a GPS. The technology is so ubiquitous it’s now even an easily downloadable app for your phone. Days of trying to stretch a huge AAA TripTik across your steering wheel as you drive and hoping it doesn’t fly out the window are over. Unless you like getting pulled over for driving erratically, GPS is the way to go.
But what if your GPS could tell you more than which road to take, which exit is best, or which alternate route to use when you (despite its best advice) still managed to miss the turn? What if your GPS started telling you the answers to everything ? Especially during a time when you don’t seem to have the answers to anything? This is the premise of Eddie Antar’s The Navigator – a show which originally was presented by The WorkShop Theater in 2010 as a Play in Process. It was so successful that it was nominated for multiple IT awards, won 2 (for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Lighting Design) and is now being remounted February 9-March 3 as a full production.
TEASER – The Navigator: Your GPS tells you how to get where you’re going, but what if it could tell you more? Dave has fallen on hard times. He’s out of work, drowning in debt, and his wife is threatening to leave him. Then suddenly his car’s navigation system starts giving him the answers. to everything.
Eddie Antar, thank you so much for giving us some time before The Navigator opens! I know you must be really busy right now so our readers appreciate it. So tell us — with only a $300 budget last year The Navigator swept the NYIT Awards with eight nominations, including Outstanding Production of a Play and Outstanding Original Full-Length Script. The Navigator was the most nominated show at the 2011 New York Innovative Theatre Awards. You don’t get nominated for that many awards with a gimmick. So while the teaser sounds cute, there must be more to this story than a know-it-all GPS. Where does the true heart of this story lie?
Eddie Antar: We live in a world where information is easier and easier to obtain. You no longer have to add, spell or keep your eyes open for exit signs on the highway. The heart of the play is in the question “Are we losing anything?” What happens to the life experience when all the answers are provided for you.
How did the idea of a know-it-all GPS come to you? Were you watching Night Rider and asking your magic 8 ball questions one night and thought “hey this could be a play!”
EA: I was touring colleges with my son back in 2007 and I elected to get a GPS with my Hertz. I fully expected it to tell me when to exit or make a right turn. What I didn’t expect was it telling me to keep to the left because we were approaching a fork on the highway. I looked at my son and said “This thing knows more than I thought”. After that the jokes started coming: “What if it could give you stock picks? Or Lotto numbers? Wouldn’t it be great if it could tell you what to say to your wife in a fight? How to deal with a troubled teenager?” My son Matt suggested that I write a play about it. My first thought was “I’m lucky if I get a 20 pager out of this.” But once I hooked onto a theme, I just kept writing.
I remember, as a child, asking my father how he grew up without audio cassettes. “We didn’t miss what we didn’t have” was basically the answer. Nowadays it’s hard to remember that there wasn’t always a GPS system to help get us from point A to point B … but people had to muddle through with AAA maps for years. So — my question is — if the GPS hadn’t been invented would you have written a similar story using a different scenario?
EA: I can’t think of any other plug and play type of technology that can so guide you for hours through to whatever you’re trying to accomplish. There is a point in the play where Dave, the driver, doesn’t like what the Navigator is suggesting, so he turns it off, but he’s unable to continue driving because he can’t read the highway signs. I’ve had that experience, where I’m no longer reading signs, I’m just listening to “Approaching exit… on the right”. I can’t think of another type of technology where it assists you so fully just by turning it on. Without that, I don’t think it would be this kind of play.
These days it seems like we’re all a little lost … we’re working harder and have less to show for it. Your character, Dave, is (unfortunately) more “every-man” than “some poor guy down on his luck”. Do you think this is what accounts for the success of the first production of The Navigator? That everyone could see a little of themselves in the character?
EA: Absolutely. But I do think that he is an “every-man” who is “some poor guy down on his luck”. We’ve all been there. A few things go wrong, one right behind the other, and we can become terrified of making one more decision. At that point we just want to know. Think of how high the stakes can get in the world we live in today. A few of choices go south and you’re really up a creek. Gambling can be fun, until one more loss could means total financial (or marital) ruin. I think that’s something anyone can identify with.
Many shows dream of being remounted, few get the opportunity. So first of all, congratulations! Secondly – without giving too much away – what types of things are you changing this time around? And what are you keeping from the first production? Or is it all “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
EA: We have more of a budget this time around and more space to work with. So this time around we’ll be playing some with production values (set, lights and sound to some degree. Our sound designer is a genius.) But we’re all mindful of the fact that the play was successful for a reason, and we don’t want to mess too much with that.
Finally, if you had a GPS that could actually tell you anything, what would you hope to learn from it?
EA: The most important thing to me is my family. These are not just words. And I do worry about things like making sure we’re always fully funded, eating, wearing clothes and can occasionally go out and enjoy ourselves. I’m an independent database applications developer (ironic, I know) and if there was one thing I’d always want direction on it would be decisions to make sure that we stay afloat. I wouldn’t mind those directions at all.
Thank you, Eddie Antar, for giving us some great answers! I know I’ll be looking forward to seeing this show. And for our readers – here’s everything YOU need to know about The Navigator if you want to buy a ticket. And – even without an all-knowing GPS – I know you do!)
February 9 thru March 3, 2012
Sunday, February 12 @ 3:00 p.m.
Thursday thru Saturday, February 16 thru 18 @ 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, Feb 19 @ 3:00 p.m.
Monday, Feb 20 @ 8:00
Thursday thru Saturday, February 23 thru 25 @ 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 26 @ 3:00 p.m.
Thursday thru Saturday, March 1 thru 3 @ 8:00
Purchase tickets online at OvationTix
or call 866-811-4111
312 West 36th Street, Fourth Floor East
New York, NY 10018
Between 8th and 9th Avenues