Page N3.1 . 24 October 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - News Department
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    Design Review On Revue

    "Private Jokes Public Places," a play by Oren Safdie, will be premiering October 12-28, 2001 at the Malibu Stage Company.

    Setting: Classroom in a school of architecture
    Players: A student and her design jury
    Time: The present ...

    Margaret: (worked up) "You ask us to come up with these abstract ideas that aren't even meant to be built, and then before you know it, someone publishes it in some shee-shee poo-poo New York magazine, and then all of a sudden there's a show at MOMA, and then pretty soon after that, it gets built, and then others get built, cheap knock-offs start showing up in office buildings, shopping malls, hospitals ... and all from what? Some narcissistic attempt to stand out from the rest as if they're trying to come up with a new craze in designer jeans ... I mean, at least with the Modernists, despite being a complete failure, their intentions were motivated by a sense of social purpose.

    Colin: (antennas up) The Modernists? You criticized the Modernists. Which ones are you referring to?

    Margaret: (not as confident now) No one architect in particular, I'm referring more to the failure of the Movement.

    Colin: Am I missing something? Is this an established fact?

    Margaret: Not really, but —

    Colin: — So you find the work of Le Corbuiser a failure?

    Margaret: No, I admire Le Corbuiser.

    Colin: Adolf Loos?

    Margaret: No.

    Colin: —Walter Gropius? Louis Sullivan? Mies Van Der Rohe?

    Margaret: Well, actually—

    Colin: Who are you to make these sweeping statements? Attacking these great men of history?

    Margaret: What I meant to say is that even though the Modern Movement produced some very important buildings, and continues to fulfill a need, it was also responsible for some of the worst failures in architectural history which continue to plague our inner cities today. Sure, Modernism works when it's applied to a luxury apartment building on Lake Michigan, a glass house in the middle of the Connecticut woods, or a French villa overlooking the Mediterranean, but what has it done for the people — the real people — living in public housing projects in the Bronx, Chicago, Paris, and every other slum in the Western world? You think it's a coincidence that there's skyrocketing crime rates? Battered wives? Teenage pregnancy? The buildings look like they were designed for mice, not people.

    "Private Jokes Public Places" premieres October 12-28, 2001 at the Malibu Stage Company, 29243 Pacific Coat Highway, Malibu, California, 310-589-1998. Written by Oren Safdie, directed by Craig Carlisle, produced by Jacqueline Bridgeman. Starring Rod McLachlan, M.J. Kang, Geoffrey Wade, Fritz Michel.



    ArchWeek Image

    Margaret tries to persuade her jury to talk about her own work.
    Photo: Oren Safdie

    ArchWeek Image

    A scale model plays prominently on stage.
    Photo: Oren Safdie

    ArchWeek Image

    A student is grilled by her design jury in a new play centered on architectural discourse.
    Photo: Oren Safdie

    ArchWeek Image

    Drawings of the project form a backdrop to the acting.
    Image: Oren Safdie


    Click on thumbnail images
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