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The Second Woman repeats the same scene from John Cassavetes’s Opening Night one hundred times (photo by Heidrun Lohr)

The Second Woman repeats the same scene from John Cassavetes’s Opening Night one hundred times (photo by Heidrun Lohr)

BAM Fisher, Fishman Space, 321 Ashland Pl.
October 18, 5:00 pm - October 19, 5:00 pm, $25

Last month, Cyril Teste’s multimedia adaptation of John Cassavetes’s 1977 film Opening Night kicked off FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival, an immersive production highlighted by the US stage debut of French star Isabelle Adjani. Cassavetes’s film stars Gena Rowlands, his wife, as a theater actress getting lost between fiction and reality during out-of-town previews of a show called Second Woman; Cassavetes plays her leading man. Now BAM is presenting another unique exploration of the film in its Next Wave Festival. Beginning at 5:00 on the afternoon of October 18 and continuing for twenty-four consecutive hours, actress Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Blaze) will perform the same scene from Opening Night one hundred times, each with a different man playing opposite her. (There will be short breaks at 7:00 pm and then every two hours.) Created, written, and directed by Nat Randall and Anna Breckon, Second Man features video direction by EO Gill and Breckon (there are four cameras in use), lighting by Amber Silk and Kayla Burrett, sound by Nina Buchanan, and set design by Genevieve Murray/FUTURE METHOD STUDIO.

As opposed to theater, which is live every night, a movie scene can be done over and over again until everyone involved — particularly the director and the star — is happy with the result. However, in this case, Shawkat — who in Miguel Arteta’s Duck Butter played a character on a twenty-four-hour date with another woman, making love every sixty minutes — will be caught in an endless loop, a repetition that will be different every time as the other actor changes. “The Second Woman takes as its starting point the idea that emotions and identities are culturally and historically specific, and that gender identities are defined by, and produced through, emotional cultures and norms,” Randall and Breckon explain in a program note. “Taking gender, as a particular relation to cultural power and privilege, as its focus, The Second Woman explores the ways in which gender privilege and power expresses itself through feeling.” Advance timed tickets allow entry at 5:00 and midnight on Friday and 4:00 and 8:00 am on Saturday; otherwise, you can buy tickets at the venue, and you are allowed to leave and come back at any time as space permits.

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