But Grossman, 36, gets to be the most fun kind of eighth-
grader: a fake one. She’ll be M.J., proud resident of the fictional “Beertown,” which is enjoying a second run in July. One of the perks of this blast to the past is a fake field trip to Washington to create a scrapbook from M.J.’s class trip to the Capitol. “I just got my M.J. haircut,” she reported, a look which is “just shy of militant.”
“Beertown” is Dog & Pony D.C.’s interactive theater experience in which audience and cast members are residents of a fictional Midwestern town deciding what merits inclusion in their official time capsule. (In the play, the now-15-year-old M.J. brings her scrapbook forward as a worthy artifact.) It premiered in November and was nominated for a 2011 Helen Hayes Award.
Grossman said she is excited to see how the show’s central question — How do individuals navigate community? — plays out in the (literally) heated preelection season. During the first run, “we realized we were able to have some very high impact conversations about what’s important to people in their community. Beertown itself becomes this sort of neutral territory in which we can have conversations that we tend to get politically riled up about.”
Grossman, Colin K. Bills, J. Argyl Plath and Jon Reynolds are working on “subtle changes” in the scripted material (parts of the performance are improvised) to “encourage and provoke deeper exploration of the social and political questions of the Beertown of the night,” Grossman said. The larger ensemble will reunite in June; rehearsals begin at the end of that month.
She hopes the “thinking crowd” that is the D.C. audience will see “Beertown” as a stress-free place to get their civics on. “It just creates that playground for them to come in and relax but get some ideas out.”
July 12-22 at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company’s Rehearsal Hall, 641 D St. NW; July 28 at Round House Theatre Silver Spring, 8641 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring; dogandponydc.com; 202-210-8847.
Father and son
Paata Tsikurishvili remembers war. When the founding artistic director of Synetic Theater was growing up in Georgia, the former Soviet satellite, conflict raged. Though he was a civilian, “I remember guys who were practicing how to shoot bazookas and guns.” He remembers his dad telling him, “Sometimes, people need to give the blood to achieve things.”
Tsikurishvili is channeling the memories in the direction of “Home of the Soldier,” an original play he created with Synetic’s resident fight choreographer, Ben Cunis, who wrote the script.
“Home” opens on a young man who is video-chatting with his father, a soldier in an unnamed war. In the middle of their conversation, conflict breaks out in the war zone and the father vanishes from the screen. The son, whose understanding of war is rooted mostly in video games, joins the army to find his dad.