There is something strangely invigorating about the plays of C.J. Hopkins. More abstract than Shepard, more concrete than Mamet, both with whom he shares a love of hard, fast, interstitial language, Hopkins' dialogue casually exacts a world of tense and crazy beings reaching desperately, ambivalently for...what? The answer sits in the audience.
A precious chance to be in that audience is arriving this spring at The Present Company's Theatorium. , written and directed by Hopkins, is described unflinchingly in its press material as "an irreverently devout meditation on the state of the American theater and the society it reflects. Without characters to inhabit, and with only the shreds of a story to work with, a large ensemble of players on a bare-bones set tries to get to the heart of certain questions... Why have people gathered in theaters since the dawn of civilization? Why do we still? What is the unique, social, and spiritual experience that theater alone is capable of offering us--that film, television, and other performance media cannot?" No small goal for no small mind.
Hopkins--rife with apologetics for all nostalgic innuendo--describes his plays as ritual. Like political meetings, church gatherings, and social ceremonies, his texts attempt to ritualize what he terms "our current late-stage capitalist society." The theater, to Hopkins, is a collectivizing locale, a connecting epicenter of information and power, a conscious/unconscious plug-in site where the audience feels something happen--and leaves burdened with the anticipation of discovering, upon reflection, what it was.
In other words, Hopkins wants to involve us in a search. "My biggest investment is not in the writing. It's in making a different kind of theater. Capital has decoded, deconstructed, freed us. But what is next? My plays seek that next." Due to this ambiguous objective, Hopkins' plays are both philosophic and chatty, quotidian and political, mystic and mundane. In the guts of his characters is a vitriolic disgust for all that is commodified, nebulous, and inauthentic, yet from their mouths emerge the regular rappings of bored, post-Marxist humans, leaving us to endlessly ask, "What got caught in their throats?"