As part of The Glassblock’s sponsored partnership with the New Hazlett Theater, they are presenting a series of editorially-independent previews and reviews of the 2016-2017 Community Supported Art (CSA) Performance Series. Below is their review of Kalopsia by Monteze Freeland, a collaborative response from editor Adam Shuck, arts and culture editor David Bernabo, and guest panelists Julius Boatwright and Adil Mansoor. And read their preview of the performance here.
In our pre-performance conversation with Monteze Freeland, the playwright and director of Kalopsia, which was staged at the New Hazlett on June 1 and 2, 2017, he explained the meaning behind the word made from a mash-up of two ancient Greek roots. Described as the delusion of seeing things as more beautiful than they are, the concept of kalopsia encapsulates a bittersweet duality: finding yourself enthralled but, ultimately, lost within what’s really an illusion.
re>Byrd, the protagonist of Kalopsia portrayed by Randyn Fullard, is a young, vivacious character. As the play opens, he and a coterie of singers welcome the audience with a funky musical number. “Byrd’s the boss,” they intone, and with a limber choreography and flashy costuming, Byrd asserts himself confidently.
But, really, Byrd isn’t the boss. At the close of the opening musical number, we learn he’s an employee of a Pittsburgh hotel, and his boss, Mr. Whitman, played with boorish gusto by Victor Aponte, shows his disrespect for Byrd, stopping off at a urinal and then, to groans of disgust from the audience, wiping his hands on his employee. Larry, Byrd’s co-worker and friend portrayed by Sam Lothard, looks out for Byrd. Byrd is hoping for a promotion, and he therefore has to suffer Mr. Whitman’s abuse. “Let me see you walk like a boss,” Larry coaches Byrd, urging him to take on a more masculine gait—which is played for laughs—speaking to something deeper, a layer of difficulty that Byrd has with fitting into the world around him.