The Spin Cycle
Jerrod Bogard in a scene from The Spin Cycle | photo by Paul Newland
Author: Jerrod Bogard
Description: 5 diverse short plays-- comedies and dramas-- about trying to make sense of a world in constant “spin”.
First Produced: 2009
Date Added: 11/30/2012
Content Advisory: A few instances of strong language
Keywords: Comedy · Drama · Coming of Age · Social Issues · Politics · Large Cast Size
0 Acts, 100 Minutes
8 Females, 9 Males, 2 Gender Neutral
NOTE: The Spin Cycle is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to Rochelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original Production Information
The Spin Cycle: 5 plays by Jerrod Bogard was orriginally produced by Wide Eyed Productions and Shortened Attention Span Theatre in January-February of 2009 at the Players Theatre Loft, New York City.
Directed by: Brian Bernhard, Anthony Augello, Jake Witlen, Kristin Skye Hoffmann, Neil Fennell and Justin Ness
Set design: Sean Boat
Starring: Alexandra Cremer, Andrew Harriss, Anthony Reimer, Ben Newman, John Barbieri, Craig Clary, Daniela Genoble, Duane Ferguson, Howard Mears, Ivan Goris, Jessica Garavus, Joseph Hernandez, Justin Ness, Kevin Perri, Kristin Skye Hoffmann, Lauren Bahlman, Liz White, Lucy McRae, Mellissa Johnson, Stacy Price, Trevor Dallier
Stage Manager: Christy Bananti
Producer: Carlo Rivieccio
Review by Martin Denton
It is always exciting to discover a talented young playwright, and that's exactly what awaits you in The Spin Cycle, a program of five plays by Jerrod Bogard. As presented by Wide Eyed Productions and Shortened Attention Span, The Spin Cycle is not only an impressive showcase of Bogard's range, but also a sterling example of how to mount an evening of short plays.
Bogard is clearly concerned about the state of the world right now, especially the War in Iraq; three of the five plays deal directly or indirectly with that conflict and how it has affected Americans. At the center of The Spin Cycle is a remarkable one-man play called Just Your Average G.I. Joe, which Bogard himself performs under the sharp direction of Kristin Skye Hoffmann; it takes place in a bar somewhere in the American South, and introduces us to a young soldier just returned from Iraq, who is explaining to some unseen person or persons that being in the army is just like any other job. This fellow doth protest too much: the more he tries to convince us that he likes his work, the more we begin to suspect otherwise. Just Your Average G.I. Joe is fascinating because it's so ambivalent—there have always been people who justify and even glorify war, but can they really look us in the eye as they make their arguments?
Copper Green, which opens the evening, takes place on the Staten Island Ferry. A family from the American Midwest—a Dad (Anthony Reimer), an older sister (Stacy Ayn Price), and a kid brother (John Barbieri)—are riding the boat around the Statue of Liberty, while a man who appears to be of Arab descent (he's wearing a Muslim-style skullcap) alternately watches them and tries to ignore them. The father uses this moment to try to explain what his older son is fighting for in Iraq. Anthony Augello has directed this wry comedy nicely, and his cast is superlative: the actors playing the three family members have a chemistry that feels especially authentic. What I like best about Copper Green is the tension between the Dad's attempt to understand what the War in Iraq really means and his own strangeness in New York City, as reflected in the eyes of the Arab American New Yorker who is trying to get to work without having to interact too much with annoying tourists.
The Spin Cycle concludes with Jerome via Satellite, which may be the strongest and most potent play of this quintet. It's about an American soldier named Jerome in Iraq who is going to appear on a cable talk show (called "The Spin Cycle") to receive birthday greetings from his family back home in the States. The places where Bogard takes this familiar concept are surprising and jolting, so I don't want to say more about what happens. The play juxtaposes crassness, indifference, courage, and love in a harrowing and resonant manner. Justin Ness directs this complex piece—which includes a video component along with simultaneous live action involving the two groups on tv—with consummate skill and intelligence.
Nestled between this socially-conscious fare are two much lighter works. Hedge, directed by Jake Witlen and performed by Melissa Johnson and Lauren Bahlman, is about two young women in Hollywood hiding out from the paparazzi. And First Base Coach, the funniest play of The Spin Cycle, features Kristin Skye Hoffmann and Ben Newman as an 11-year old girl and nine-year-old boy who are testing out hypotheses about just exactly what it means to get to first base in a relationship. Hoffmann and Newman work together like a classic comedy duo under Neil Fennell's direction, never making fun of the children they're portraying but allowing us to see ourselves—then and now—in their dead-on performances.
The Spin Cycle is tightly knit together with video transitions featuring the same talk show host character who is integral to Jerome via Satellite, a smart choice that gives the evening cohesion and unity. The production design (by Bogard, with sets by Sean Boat, lighting by Jason Baumuller, sound by Scott Voloshin, and video direction by Brian A. Bernhard) is simple, clean, and appropriate.
All of the artists involved work together to make The Spin Cycle compelling and enjoyable theatre. And Bogard's intelligently observed voice makes him a welcome addition to the panoply of American playwrights, and certainly one to keep an eye on.
review of the original production in 2009
Excerpt from The Spin Cycle
Two beautiful, fit, women recline in lawn chairs on the grass outside a million-dollar home in the Hollywood Hills. Amber is a bit brash and aggressive—a good candidate for "Girls Gone Wild." Celine is sweet and a bit more demure. She’s the Mary Ann to Amber’s Ginger. There is a cooler with beverages. They are taking some sun.
AMBER: Look up … That photographer.
AMBER: Still. I swear, this guy drives around the block, grabs a taco supreme, and then rolls back here for another four-hour stakeout.
CELINE: So that’s what that is.
CELINE: At the corner of his mouth. Sour cream.
AMBER: We only hope.
AMBER: Yuk times uk to the square root of ewe. That guy is …
CELINE and AMBER: Skeeezyyy.
AMBER: Do you think he gets any decent shots off from over there?
CELINE: Telephoto lens.
AMBER: Who’s he work for you think?
CELINE: Does it matter? All the same. Rats and weasels.
AMBER: Oh, they’re not all the same.
CELINE: They are all the same.
AMBER: Where would you rather see a picture of yourself taking out the garbage? The Inquirer? Or the Weekly World News?
CELINE: (Beat.) Okay … okay. But—but—let’s don’t give this sleaze our energy, all right? He’s not getting anything from over there. Not with this hedge in the way.
AMBER: So now you like the hedge?
CELINE: I didn’t say—
AMBER: No-no, that’s fine. Now you like it.
CELINE: I’m saying yes, there’s something to be said for privacy. Feeling safe. Really, this should be a gated community.
AMBER: If they gate this community, the entire city economy suffers. No more orange salesmen at the traffic light at the bottom of the hill. No more paparazzi vying to snap nude sunbathing domestic spats. No more map salesmen to the celebrity homes. You know what pays for unemployment? We do. Taxes go up. Crime goes up. It’s a can of worms. Soon as you start putting up walls—you create conflict.
CELINE: I don’t think one of those jobs actually contributes to any part of the economy. Maybe the orange salesman.
AMBER: I could go for some juice about now.
AMBER: You can say what you like about the hedge though, it gives good shade come about five in the evening.
CELINE: Yes it does.
AMBER: Yes it does. And I told you that when it was first going in, didn’t I?
CELINE: Yes you did.
AMBER: Yes I did. And you said it was going to obstruct our view.
CELINE: And it has.
AMBER: Yes, well, regardless, I still think it was the right thing to do. People need protection from this sort of thing. (Calling to the man offstage.) Hey!
CELINE: What are you doing? Don’t do that.
AMBER: Hey buddy!
CELINE: Amber. Stop it. You’re gonna bring attention.
AMBER: (To the man.) You wanna take a picture?! (To Celine.) Attention? Watch this. (Amber rips open her shirt, exposing her push-up bra and cleavage.)
AMBER: WoooHooo! Can you picture that?! Can you picture this?! You pervert S.O.B.!!
CELINE: Sit down.
Bogard and Cassidy: Modern Renaissance Men of the Theatre: Playwrights Jerrod Bogard and Nat Cassidy are both featured in "Plays and Playwrights 2010" and co-star in a new production of "Henry VI, Part 3." They discuss this and more with Martin Denton.