Jump rope is just one example of the Theaterobics in 45 Plays for 45 Presidents. Veronika Duerr, Terrell Donnell Sledge, and Nael Nacer

“Lets get physical, physical, I wanna get physical…”  OK, enough of Olivia Newton John, I want to discuss the physicality of Theaterobics as it relates to 45 Plays for 45 Presidents.

Hmm, what in the world is Theaterobics you ask?  Well, it’s a concept on the stage whereby actors perform choreography of movement in sprint-like mode while acting, singing, dancing, and flat out falling on the stage itself (or physical comedy).  Thus, it’s a quadruple whammy workout for the Theaterobic Torch (i.e., actor)!  Let me just say that you better be in good shape to do a show like this for nearly four weeks.  It’s, also, a word created by me so I may someday shine in the world of linguistics and win a Linguistic Society of America award.  Alright, I’m talking mumbo jumbo; it’s another hot day, my brain has sun burn, and the best I can come up with is a loony play on words with aerobics.

But by my definition, is Theaterobics a loony word?   I say not in the least after observing a rehearsal of 45 Plays for 45 Presidents this past weekend.  Reading the day’s itinerary beforehand, I ventured out figuring I’d get a standard dose of good acting and direction during my short time in attendance.  But I experienced much more.  Personally, I’m a guy who follows the words of a play much more than anything (drama or comedy).  However, my sun burned brain took a shift this time around as Sean Daniel’s direction and the Five Theaterobic Torches (more on that later) took their physicality to center stage (forgive the pun).

There are five actors in this play and they do everything but the catering of the swearing-in-ceremonies for each Prez (hmm, don’t give them any ideas).  Because of the time element, there is no time for assistance.  For example, there are no helpers for scene changes, no roadies if this were a concert, just five actors, again, doing their thing.  This thing includes the actors setting up 45 plays in rapid torch like fire.  If it were me, I’d rename the play, 45 Sprints for 45 Presidents (hmm, maybe not).  But you get the point, it’s a marathon of theatrical sprints.  Not only do the actors have to know their lines, they have to be in certain places at specific times AND move tables, beds, props, etc. continuously along the way.  These transitions (as Director Sean Daniels describes them) are the bloodline or the choreography of the show.  With so many Presidents involved and constant movement, imagine if the Woodrow Wilson play transitions to the Hillary or Donald play in error.  This means we’re still in Prohibition and can’t have a drink until, possibly, November.  However, not to worry, I know a speakeasy nearby just in case.

Yes, there is the lighting, sound, and the technical aspect which is vital and I hope to comment on that at a later time.  But, again, it’s the choreography that stands out this time around.  The fast pace from play to play, the movement, the physicality.  So what’s the deal with the Torches?   Well, observing these five actors (albeit in a short time) and realizing all they must do to contribute towards the show’s success night after night; they have to be fantastic (physically and mentally).  So the heck with the Fantastic Four, give me this Fantastic Five and the Human Torch fire power they all possess and I’ll take my chances with the show’s success.  If anything, the following five Theateropic Torches offer us their own Department of Kinesiology and look to provide us a September/October evening or afternoon with a lecture and visual demonstration in exercise and movement science:

  • Celina Dean – pardon me (get it, groan) but I’ll be happy to make an anti-inflammatory and/or ice pack contribution for Prez #38’s play
  • Veronika Duerr
  • Aaron Muñoz
  • Nael Nacer
  • Terrell Donnell Sledge

-Paul Galinis, Cohort


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