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The Connected: Bundle #1 (Fringe Festival 2012)

by Lina Zeldovich on August 19, 2012

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The Bible meets Occupy Wall Street in this philosophical excurse into our wireless world where the modern day descendants of Cain and Abel text message each other underneath the ominous shade of the 21st century Babel colossus – utterly connected and ultimately divided. Written by Brian LaPerche, who also stars in the show, The Connected: Bundle #1 was inspired by The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, as omnipresent as ever in this objective scrutiny of our cyber-connected era.


Reclusive and meek Henry Connor (Brian LaPerche) hides from the world in his apartment, lost in thought and computer code. If it wasn’t for his bubbly girlfriend Ruth White (Emily Kaplan,) an artist and a budding social activist, he’d barely set foot outside the door at all. Ruth, however, spends most of her time running around and organizing social movement against the mighty flow of handheld technology assembled in the sweatshops of China – by typing her fervent speeches on her own smartphone. Henry’s fond of Ruth but has secrets he’s not telling her about.

Henry’s got a skeleton in his closet, or rather a brother – all the way up in the tower of Babel. His short-tempered older sibling Ken Janus (Jake Green) is the founder and CEO of Babel Technologies, a multibillion dollar computer-and-all-things-mobile giant, and Ruth’s number one enemy. Driven to find their father who had abandoned the family when they were kids, Ken had left home for good years ago, changed his name, constructed a supercomputer to conduct the search for the vanished patriarch and also built himself a wireless empire, sustained by the sweatshops on the other side of the earth. He has severed his ties with his kin, except for the occasional talks with Henry, which usually happen in a form of quick clandestine rendezvous in the park, to which Ken arrives in dark glasses and an oversized coat. Janus runs his kingdom much the same way as every other capitalist villain: sixteen-hour days are a norm and workers plunging off the factory’s roof to their deaths are a fact of life. In that world of conveyor belts and barracks, Chinese teenager Ming Chen (Ione Wang) polishes the newly assembled mobile toys to a high shine – day after day, with no clue of what they even do. She’s not allowed to turn them on.

Meanwhile, Ruth’s movement picks up momentum and she brings her cohorts to picket the Babel Tower. Problems bubble up in every corner of Ken’s empire – and beyond. Chen Ming suffers from nightmares and repetitive motion disorder, which is affecting her ability to work. She breaks the rule and not only turns on one of the slick black devices but takes her own pictures with it. Serendipitously, the phone and the pictures end up in Henry’s hands when he unwraps his new upgraded model – and becomes captivated with the sad-looking stranger worlds apart. Henry begs Ruth not to storm Babel Technologies, but she there’s no stopping her, which brings brothers to a dangerous brawl.

There are many ways this story may end, given its obvious parallels between the Occupy movement, Biblical legends and our obsession with having the web and its links in the palm of our hand – at any price. Yet, it’s not the ending that’s important. While the play’s multimedia effects transport us from the urban sprawl of the Babel metropolis to the concrete barracks of China faster than a tweet, the story forces us to slow down and contemplate our reality. The play’s coda is in the fact that our connected brains can still produce thoughts longer than 130 characters. And as long as that’s true, the mobile devices will remain what they are: vehicles for our views, opinions, and information, making us one hell of a connected bundle.


 The Connected: Bundle #1
Writer: Brian LaPerche
Director: Cody Holliday Haefner
Inspired by Mike Daisey’s “The Ecstasy and Agony of Steve Jobs”, The Connected: Bundle #1 explores the how technology binds us to one another worlds apart and separates us when we stand face to face. Are we rebuilding the Tower of Babel?
1h 15m   Local   Manhattan, New York
Drama   Multi-Media
Staycation: Ripped from the Headlines   Sci-Fi Tech SuperHero Camp
VENUE #18: HERE Mainstage Theater
Sun 12 @ 5  Thu 16 @ 7  Fri 17 @ 9:45  Sun 19 @ 7  Thu 23 @ 2  

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