Breathe Smoke- Orbiter 3

Steele is an actor, producer, marketer, and creator in Philadelphia.

Nan is a cis actor/maker, an intersectional feminist, queer, and debatably nonwhite.

Steele

Alright! So, what was in your pockets?

Nan

Very little! This was the first Orbiter 3 show I’ve seen– I’ve seen Anita Holland (who plays Dante)’s work several times before, but that’s it. You?

Steele

I didn’t come with any expectations other than a good show really. I saw Moon Man Walk and loved it and heard that their other products were good. I recently met Anita but hadn’t seen her perform before.

Design wise – lighting, set, and sound were all really good.

Nan

Absolutely! The space and the way they organized set pieces in such a way that they didn’t have to do set changes but were able to evoke many different spaces was most exciting to me.

Steele

Agreed!

Nan

It was the kind of set that I felt like would have been less successful if it were being produced in a more moneyed, high budget show. It felt very handmade in a lovely and apt way.

Steele

I agree. It had the grunge that the piece needed. What did you think of the story?

Nan

They did a really interesting thing in basically having a show comprised of two separate two-person shows– there was not much interaction between the pairs, and their stories ran parallel while only directly intersecting a couple times.

Steele

I would have loved to have more interaction between the two pairs of characters. They’re in the same time and the same world so it seemed strange there was no crossover.

Nan

Mm. On the other hand I think they maintained a lovely intimacy by keeping the scenes so small. And I’m glad they didn’t have a “revelation” moment in which everyone realized their connection in a more concrete way. It would have felt sort of cheap.

Steele

I enjoyed Dante and Ellis’ story-line but felt less connected to Rev and Fritzi’s.

Nan

Yeah, agreed about Rev and Fritzi’s storyline. Maybe the stakes didn’t feel high enough? I mostly found myself watching Makoto Hirano’s acting, which was fantastic.

Steele

I think that’s exactly what it was. When Fritzi and Rev did have their climax it didn’t feel like a climax for them even though their volume and intensity denoted that it was their climax.

Nan

I felt in a weird way that the writer was more interested in using their storyline as a conduit to the other storyline.

Steele

Yes, I agree with that. One fed into the other.  

Between both couples I also wanted just a little more chemistry.

Nan

The scene in which Rev (Makoto Hirano) was trying on the different headphones was really fantastic though! I loved the use of gorgeous props, and the vignettes that he discovered through them. Though the scene felt like it was from a different show entirely. I really enjoyed it.

Steele

Yes to props! Those headphones were beautiful. My feeling about all the scenes where he’s preparing for the final show is that there was not enough music being created during them. It felt odd that he was doing more writing on paper than creating music. Also, I felt kind of like he had a “Chekhov’s gun” situation with the guitar. He comes in with it, it’s in his room, but he never plays it.

Nan

I completely agree about Chekhov’s gun.

There’s this big build up to his show, and we see him have that one scene of searching for material, and then next thing is their confrontation and he cancels the show.

Steele

Yea his decision to cancel the show didn’t seem developed enough for me.

Nan

I wanted to have more of a sense of either his music or his performance art (though they’re supposed to be the same)– his guitar is there the whole time but no use of music in the show other than her violin diary bits (which were awesome and very useful and made me want more from the rest of the cast).

Steele

Her violin bits were REALLY awesome.

I also wanted more music.

Nan

His cancelling the show was so much more crucial to the other storyline. I felt like it was justified more by the other actors than their own actions

Steele

I agree.

Nan

Honestly though, none of these problems detracted from my enjoying the show at all, and it was mostly because the actors all seemed so invested in their characters. There was an awesome ownership there. It’s really exciting to watch actors speaking lines that they have a personal relationship with, and I’m thinking it comes from the devising?

I was really intrigued by the intersection between devised and written theater. I’m really curious about how they managed that in rehearsal.

Steele

I agree. At the end I really liked it and I wanted more. I hadn’t thought about how the devised nature impacted the performance but that sounds right.

Nan

I also loved the way they ended. It was very useful to see the pairs finally break the boundary?

Steele

I love the ending because of how meaningful it was for Dante. Her arc throughout the show is about preparing for her last shoot, her finale, with Rev’s last show. The ending was our realization that her final scene with Rev was the shoot she had already done. It was such an impactful experience for her. That was beautiful.

Nan

Yes! Absolutely.

Steele

I just wish I had moments like that at the end for all four characters.

Nan

It did feel a little thin. I wished that there had been any kind of closure for Fritzy, mostly, because she was also the least developed feeling character and she didn’t even get an ending.

Steele

I agree. I really wanted at least for Rev to listen to her music.

Nan

Yes! But instead he hears a tiny bit and leaves.

There is a lot of unfinished business at the end. I think the only semblance of either closure or some kind of direction in the future is for Dante.

Steele

I agree.

Nan

But again, none of these things particularly bothered me in the moment of seeing the show, other than feeling particularly detached from Fritzi. The heat behind the acting made it so watchable.

Steele

I was invested. It was good to watch.

Final thoughts?

Nan

I was very happy to see a piece that felt so personal and intimate. I think it’s a great achievement just for being as well written (tremendous dialogue!) and also devised as it is. I’m glad I went!

You?

Steele

The bathroom scene between Dante and Ellis is going down as one of my favorite theater scenes I’ve ever seen!

Nan

Agreed!!

Joyful and lovely.

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