‘Something in the Air’ – Nothing On The Stage

By Ernest Kearney  —  After a “successful workshop” production, a group of CalArts students have brought “Something in the Air” to HFF22.  After seeing it I’m afraid I must question just who told them their workshop staging was “successful.”

The description given of this work is “A dark sci-fi tale of spring break gone wrong” about identity, culture, dreams, and the reality of living as a young Asian in America today.”   That is the show I was very much interested in seeing.  But, sadly, that was not what I saw.  And what I did see could hardly be called a “show” at all.

Chacha Tahng attempts to juggle three balls – writer, director, actress – two of which completely get away from her.

The script has moments, lines of dialogue that seem to hold promise, but these sink beneath a muddled staging.  As for “identity, culture, dreams, and the reality of living as a young Asian in America today” those were invisible to me.  It is hard to pinpoint if they are there at all.  This is partly due to a complete lack of direction and an ensemble of questionable strength.

In this regard, Tahng, along with Shireen Heidari and Brian Nai manage to hold their heads above water.  Barely.

Another aspect that hobbled this production and one which an experienced director observing from off the stage would have easily addressed was the show’s lighting design.  Most of the action takes place in the darkness of a mysterious subterranean cavern beneath the Denver Airport.*  There are any number of means of conveying darkness on stage, but actually having the stage so dark that the actors are all but lost in the obscurity is not the recommended method.

In all, sadly disappointing.

(Featured Image by Hao Feng)

Something in the Air

Played During Hollywood Fringe Festival 2022



Learn More at instagram.com/something.intheair

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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