As part of The Glassblock’s sponsored partnership with the New Hazlett Theater, they will be presenting a series of editorially-independent previews and reviews of the 2016-2017 Community Supported Art (CSA) Performance Series. Follow along here.
It’s a “weird word,” actor and playwright Monteze Freeland admits, exotic and foreign, the kind that requires a pause before you attempt to sound it out: Kalopsia. A combination of two Ancient Greek roots, “kalopsia” refers to the experience of seeing something as more beautiful than it actually is. That tension between objective truth and subjective experience is a rich artistic field to mine, especially fitting for musicals, in which protagonists and their supporting cast suddenly burst out into song in a temporary heightened reality. By playing with that rupture that a musical number may bring to an otherwise realistic story line, musicals enhance our appreciation of how a character may be feeling.
But despite being an enticing state of mind—who wouldn’t want to see beauty in the muck?—kalopsia is also a delusion, the inherent obverse, the agonizing edge of the double-edged sword. And it’s the perfect name for a musical about someone with his head in the clouds: “Sometimes,” Freeland says, “there’s a down side to having a lot of big dreams. It’s fun to escape, but the drive back is not always great,” Freeland says.
In Kalopsia, which Monteze Freeland and collaborators wrote and which he’s preparing to direct as the closing performance of the New Hazlett’s CSA Series, we witness protagonist Bird, over the course of a few weeks, stuck in a state of delusion. An actor living in Pittsburgh and working in a hotel, Bird’s life is slowly falling apart—though he’s blissfully unaware of it. The people in his life, however, like his boyfriend who must stage a confrontation, or his family, who urge him to find religion, are acutely attuned to Bird’s delusion. When things in his life get tough, Bird retreats to a place of fantasy. As the severity of his reality grow, his dreams become all the more troublingly fantastic.