On the Outskirts of Everything
Tim Collins in a scene from On the Outskirts of Everything
Author: Tim Collins
Description: A desperate anger management counselor expounds the wisdom of The Dog Whisperer while Frodo and Hitler wage war on a Starbuck's condiment bar; six conflicted characters grapple with the vicissitudes of contemporary masculinity.
First Produced: 2012
Date Added: 2/11/2013
Content Advisory: Strong language
Keywords: Comedy · Drama · Solo Play · Characters are Mostly Young Adults · Postmodern · Mostly Male Characters
1 Act, 68 Minutes
0 Females, 6 Males
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Original Production Information
On the Outskirts of Everything was first presented at Theater Row Studio, New York City, the 2012 United Solo Theater Festival
Performer: Tim Collins
Stage Manager: Kim Brower
Tech: Brian Collins
Props: Art Collins
Review by Martin Denton
I first became acquainted with the work of solo performance artist Tim Collins back in 2008, at the New York International Fringe Festival. His play A Fire as Bright as Heaven—in which he portrayed dozens of characters to tell an autobiographical story of the first several years of this millennium, starting with first day as a student abroad in London on September 12th, 2001—impressed me so much that I published it in NYTE's anthology Plays and Playwrights 2009 and also on Indie Theater Now, where you can read an excerpt from it and learn much more about it.
Fire is driven by Tim's deep humanity and curiosity. His new play, On the Outskirts of Everything, which debuted at this year's United Solo Festival, finds the actor/performer still on a quest to get under the skin of his fellow humans. This time, rather than mining his own personal story, he follows in the footsteps of many solo artists before him to create a rich tapestry of individuals, each of whom is given a monologue to reveal himself to us within the show. Tim told me that this piece is kind of a nod to Eric Bogosian, and it is definitely structured like one of Bogosian's solo plays from the '80s/'90s. But of course Tim's distinctive, warm, empathetic voice resonates throughout.
In On the Outskirts we meet six very different men, all (as the title suggests) on the periphery, trying to get back on track in a world that seems suddenly to be spinning too fast. There's Zac, a guy approaching middle age who blows into his hometown to reunite with a buddy from high school who he hasn't seen or talked to in more than a decade. There's David, leader of an Anger Management class for parolees who is having troubling managing his own feelings of inadequacy. There's Ian, who is painting his empty apartment while the love of his life stands just outside the door. And there's Speed, who is waiting on line at McDonald's, not quite ready to place his order because he hasn't quite worked up the courage to talk to the young lady behind the counter.
My favorite character here, though, is Daniel, a young man of perhaps 20 who is struggling with the enormity of...well, everything...while trying to just get a beverage at a Starbucks. Daniel is given to malapropisms and his already tiny attention span is further diminished by the distractions provided by his cellphone. With this monologue, in particular, Tim Collins taps into the zeitgeist with breathtaking specificity and incisiveness. Daniel texts, takes pictures, and spouts running commentary about movies he doesn't quite remember and political theories he doesn't quite understand; every one of us knows at least one person like this troubled young man.
The sixth piece in On the Outskirts isn't in the voice of a person but rather of a virtual being. Its title is "Google Search" and it's oddly affecting.
On the Outskirts is a brilliant addition to Tim's growing catalogue of solo work, which includes several pieces intended for teenage audiences on subjects like bullying and sexuality. I'm excited to have seen this newest piece, which will hopefully have an extended life in NYC and beyond.
reviewed at the 2012 United Solo Festival
Excerpt from On the Outskirts of Everything
I don’t know, do you want a coffee? A coffee, maybe, or a tea? A coffee or, ooh, a hot chocolate. I don’t know, one of those cinnamon chip scones are good...
(While texting.) I Netflixed this movie last night, it was so sad. Meryl Streep and Kevin Spacey. They were Polish and living in Brooklyn after World War Two, and they were sad and they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and it was so good. Muriel’s Wedding. (Stops texting.) No, wait. Stouffer’s… Stouffer’s Choice... No, I’m stupid: that’s a stuffing recipe. Not a recipe: a mix! I’m so stupid! (Friend asks a question.)
I don’t know, the scones look good... I don’t know, a hot chocolate, maybe.
(Back to texting.) Meryl Streep’s family was killed by Hitler. (In response to friend’s comment.) No, not really, but, in the movie... (Back to texting.) And I was thinking: Hitler. Can you imagine? Just running around, killing people all the time? That would be so weird. And, before, I was watching this History Channel thing about Hitler, and it was making all these comparisons between--(Stops texting.) No, wait, it was about Star Wars, this History Channel thing... it was about Star Wars, (Back to texting.) and it was making all these comparisons between Star Wars and Hitler, and I just thought: Did Star Wars influence Hitler? That would be so weird...
(Friend asks a question. Daniel stops texting, looks up towards kiosk counter.) I don’t know... do you see those croissants with the cheese in them? No, the danish, the danish. Oh no…! (He turns to reveal a travel mug in a side pouch of the backpack.) Brought my mug! I know, they only give you ten cents off, but still you have to do what you can to save everything. (In response to friend’s question.) I don’t know, maybe a mocha. No, a mint mocha. No: a cherry-mint mocha!
(Back to texting.) I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately. Netflix. Netflix and Youtube. Netflix, Ebay, and Google. Facebook. Netflix, Ebay, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Itunes, Twitter, Pintrest, Funnyordie. These are the only things I trust anymore. Everything else is so weird.
Like, the movie we watched after Sophie’s Choice. That was it! Sophie’s Choice. And not Kevin Spacey, Kevin Bacon. With the mustache. So, after Sophie’s Choice, we watched The Lord Of The Rings. I know, right? It’s the best movie. It’s just so real. Not real-real, (Back to texting.) but real, because, there’s truth in everything, and, the point of that movie is-- besides total amazingness-- is that history has always been bad. There’s always been wars and... (Reacting to a Facebook post.) God, she is so dumb... There’s always been wars and killing, and-- (Stops texting.) I have a photogenic memory, have I ever told you this? I mean, literally, and I remember all the terrible violence in all those movies: Hitler, The Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars,
I remember all of it, and I think to myself sometimes:
Human beings are so totally surrounded by violence all the time, in the movies and the news, and people die all the time, and wars, and stabbings and muggings and gas prices and murder, it just makes you-- (Back to the phone. Reacting to another Facebook post. He shows his friend.) Oh... look at this... at this video she just posted-- again. This German Shepherd dog, it brushes it’s own teeth... God, what she thinks is funny... (Friend makes comment.) It is funny, but it’s not funny-funny. Not post-to-your-Facebook funny. She is going to want me to “like” it, and I don’t want to. I’m not going to. She is really ticking me off.
United Solo 2012 Collection - Part 1: Tim Collins (ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF EVERYTHING), Rory Lance (DEATH IN VENICE IN FIRST PERSON) and Nancy Redman (EMERGENCY A LA CARTE) discuss their award-winning shows from the 2012 United Solo festival, all of which are published on Indie Theater Now. Each performs a short excerpt from their play as well.
youtube: Promotional video.