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'RMS Duchess of York' cruises into Paper Moose Jumpsuit & Co.

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This weekend, the folks at Paper Moose Jumpsuit & Co. are opening their first full play, created by artists at the DIY theater performance space. It's called the RMS Duchess of York, and it's about the commodification of pleasure. For the show, the Northeast studio will be transformed into a luxury cruise ship where audience members are passengers.  [jump]

Paper Moose was started as an art and performance space last summer, and has evolved into a venue where local and visiting groups can present innovative and radical new works of theater, performance art, and dance, as well as other miscellaneous happenings, including their infamous spelling bee.  

Savannah Reich, one of the founders of Paper Moose, is hesitant to say that RMS Duchess of York is a Paper Moose production. Rather, it's a collaboration between individual artists. However, it's a work created by the same folks who run the Paper Moose, plus some additional people.

In creating the piece collaborators Christopher Allen, Kait Sergenian, Nick Stocks, Savannah Reich, and Carly Wicks decided that instead of dividing up roles--playwright, actor, director, and designer--they would create the show together. All of the collaborators have helped write the script, direct, design, and perform in the production. "That made things totally crazy," says Reich, who has a background in play writing. "It's a new experience for all of us."
The set is made up of a lot of found objects, including newspaper, cloth, PVC pipes, a giant birdcage, and a bunch of moons made out of paper. With these materials they've created the pleasure ship where the action takes place.  

There's a bit of audience interaction, but you "won't be asked to do anything terrible," Reich says. One of the interactive experiences is an "experiential meal" that doesn't involve food. Reich was reticent about what this meal entailed-- she says it's a surprise.  

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According to Reich, who had been thinking of doing a play on this topic for a while, the piece is a kind of extended riff on trying to find fulfillment and joy, and the way that those things are packaged and delivered. It takes place on a cruise ship because on a cruise experiences are engineered to be really fun. "I personally feel alienated by the experience of someone trying to give me something that I will enjoy," Reich says.  

The characters in the play over-think things, trying to create an experience for people who feel alienated by pleasure commodification. In the end, the audience will get to come to their own conclusion. 

The RMS Duchess of York runs Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m., and Sunday at 7 p.m. Performances take place at the Paper Moose Jumpsuit & Co. (945 Broadway NE). Tickets are $10. For reservations, email [email protected] Only 20 seats are available on each voyage.